Author John Platt’s photo album overviews his tour of the International Cryptozoology Museum on March 20, 2010.
A brief summary of my 50th anniversary on Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day at the ICM goes something like this.
First off, we were one of 80 events around the world, in 22 countries. That was rather mind-blowing, in and off itself. Obscura Day was an international celebration of curious places occurring around the world on March 20, 2010.
Spring officially arrived at 1:32 pm EDT on Saturday but it felt more like the beginning of summer with record warmth. In Portland, Maine, where the International Cryptozoology Museum is located, the high temperature of 70 degrees F set a new daily record, breaking the old record of 62 degrees set back in 1959.
I gave tours, personally and individually to each group who visited, at a rate of one tour every half-hour. The museum volunteers and I kept things on time, as we started when we said we would, and people mentioned that the regular movement through the museum worked out well for them. Whether delivered to one person or our biggest group of 10, there were 18 tours in total, from 10 am to final closing at 7:05 pm, yesterday.
I am certain that Jeff Meuse, the museum’s volunteer organizer, will forgive me for when, late in the day, I introduced him as “Jeff Meldrum.” As Jeff said to the crowd, in rebuttal, “That happens all the time.”
The museum was visited by 59 people, who attended Obscura Day. The came from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Ohio. Of these folks, 48 were paying visitors, and the others were life members, special guests, docents, and contributors to the museum. The numbers may not seem like a great deal, but for our little museum, that’s a lot ~ and we made this month’s rent and a few expenses! The average number of visitors on Saturdays (our busiest day), since November 2009, is 20. The forecast is for this to increase with the prime tourist season just beginning.
Because the day was also the 50th anniversary of the beginning of my involvement in cryptozoology, I was surprised throughout the day with messages of congratulations. People from past lives showed up for the museum tour, my good friend (an ex-, Lib) and her friend came by, my son Caleb went on his first tour, and emails came in from surprising quarters, from Bigfooters like Daniel Perez and Craig Woolheater, Forteans such as Patrick Huyghe & David Pescovitz, and cryptozoologists including Adam Davies and Daniel Gannon.
At the very end of the long happy day, Jeff Meuse surprised me with a cake he made from scratch and decorated with root beer icing, coming into the museum with Jessi, Amy, Jennifer, and Michelle, to have me blow out two candles, “5″ and “0.” (Thank goodness it didn’t have 50 candles on it. We would have probably violated the fire codes!)
Jeff had illustrated the cake with his depiction of the now-familiar photograph of me with the Crookston Bigfoot, taken by Vermont author Joe Citro in 2005 (below).
I do wish to thank all the people who helped make this day a success. But then, you have things to do today, I suppose. Let me say, it was a group effort, and I will acknowledge some folks here.
Joshua Foer and Seth Teicher at Atlas Obscura worked out some glitches calmly with me, regarding the reservations they were setting up.
Bill Dranginis overnighted a new kid-friendly copy of Jeff Meldrum’s P-G filmsite Bigfoot mid-tarsal cast to arrive in time for exhibiting on Obscura Day, and same goes for a new but our last order of Quatchis from Adam McGirr for our museum shop.
Jeff Meuse, needless to say, as the museum docent coordinator, carried out a massive event day operation, without one shortcoming or problem occurring. Jeff’s wife, Jessi, and niece, Amy, assisted greatly with running the check-in table, the cryptid cookie sales, and helping out in the gift shop.
Fred, a new docent, came to the rescue in the afternoon, during the big rush – and cleaned windows for both the museum and Green Hand Books, earlier in the week.
Jennifer, a professional window designer, volunteered her time and efforts from Wednesday to Friday, to give a beautiful new face to our front window – moving us from winter to spring – presenting the first view to visitors with a fresh green and brown Bigfoot theme.
Michelle of the Green Hand, generously turned over more front space in her store to our tables and visitors, also freshening up her shop before the crowds came.
Volunteers Sarah and Erin got some new artistic additions – Bigfoot finger puppets and CryptoPlushies (name coined by my son Caleb) – finished for our gift store before the events began.
Tristan got our new tee-shirt order (now with the museum address under the Duncan Hopkins-created coelacanth logo) done just in time to stock the shelves. Sarah and I worked hard folding those shirts up to closing on Friday. (Mail in your reminders for unfilled back orders to firstname.lastname@example.org ~ thank you for your patience.)
I’ve probably left someone out because I’m happy but brain dead, for a moment or two. My apologies and let me know about my oversights.
Thank you all.
Stay tuned. Upcoming ICM/Loren Coleman events…on May 1st (Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA), May 7th (Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME – with the gals of Maine Roller Derby), first week in June (Glasgow and Loch Ness, Scotland), and in July (Ft. Knox, ME). More later in the year.