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HEX Calgary 2019


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HEX (Halloween Expo) Calgary




The call to arms was discovered just a week before the event was to take place, and there was question: Was there was enough members to make it happen?


The last couple of months being pretty rough with Darth Real Life, there was no doubt I needed this – with total destiny when it came to timing. No hesitation I was signed into the forums and signing up for shifts.


Ahhh there it is…that small buzz of energy that starts in the pit of the stomach and starts to grow as the days pass, and grateful for it’s return.


Halloween is, without question, my favourite holiday of the year and if anything - this was going to be the spark of epic times.


The expo was going to have haunted houses, sword swallowers, contortionists, fire artists, carnival games, costumed actors, strange and odd attraction performances with some of the coolest Halloween stars in attendance – Robert Englund, Henry Thomas, Ted Raimi, Nick Castle, Jake Busey and Meatloaf!


Deployment day was upon us in a blink, and the mission was on!


Key in the ignition, Motley Crue “Kickstart my Heart” cranked to max volume, with the highway in front of me to my XO’s house – the overwhelming rush of excitement took over.

Showing the tie fighters how to fly Chuck and I loaded the Trash Compactor, then got feet on the ground at convention centre. With the set constructed the two of us quickly discussed last minute additions… right let’s grab the tables…




While Chuck was able to discreetly grab his 10’ table, I did not. I learned just how stable or unstable convention floor curtain floor separators can be.


Here I thought I caught the first post in time only to watch 5 other separation curtains domino down the line. I looked at my fellow garrison mate with an apologetic smile “Uhh yaaa – sorry bout that” then both of us bursting into laughter.


Fellow garrison members Natalie and James set up the rest of the booth, I kitted the changeroom with the essential needs (water, first aid & kit repair station, and of course cherry sours candy), Chuck hung the extra Halloween additions to the trash compactor - we were ready to roll.




Friday October 11th, the clock struck 5 p.m. and it was showtime!


It’s time to put on costumes, it’s time to light the lights (Muppets reference) uhh… it’s time to light the lights?!


While we were informed that the lights would be dimmed to set the ambience of Halloween night, we found ourselves in darkness. Only the light from the ominous stage, some exhibitors, and a few lights by the doors lit the booths – which meant those in buckets were not going to see a thing.


Enter first on shift – James in his Inferno Tie Pilot… who also put new definition into flying blind.




Things didn’t get much better as no one could see him either, blending in as a shadow within the compactor – people were just walking by confused at what was being displayed.


Then from behind the black shiny curtain of the change room the sound of a sabre ignited, and a deep red glow illuminated the darkness as well as the creepy white mask of Darth Nihilus.




(Photos were brightened needless to say)


Seeing as there was still very little crowd and awesome ambience in the booth it was time to have fun with the camera!




Did we ever have time to fill, it seemed that the attendees were showing up in small bursts with sometimes hours between them. Providing a perfect opportunity to just visit, talk, catch up with each other at the booth, and take photos with the set.




One can’t help but admire as we banded together. We made it work. Coming up with booth layout, filling shifts, encouraging and supporting one another, everyone groovin’ to Stevie Wonder “Superstition” before the Expo doors open or possibly a “Carlton” dance to make some laughs.

Breaks were very rewarding as you could sit quietly enjoying the shows and panels – with the occasional dead person to check up on you.






One could best describe the experience of the performances like that of the carnival side show tents to awe and wow your imagination – think of the Movie “The Greatest Showman” meets “Night of the Living Dead”.


I was living the dream.


The exhibitors with their oddities and wares made it fun to walk floor and take in the spirit of Halloween. Tarot card readers, crystal skulls, baked treats, sound activated light accessories, shadow boxed insects of the world, a giant animatronic Krampus swinging a screaming child, throw on a Proton pack at the Ghostbusters Booth, costume accessories, “How to” seminars, with the happy little smiles of trick or treaters holding their bags as they went from booth to booth.


The second day yielded some well needed light, which unfortunately came with a cost.




It was great to get more light, without question, however by noon they turned on the artist alley track lighting with of course one light not pointed at the ground but pointing directly at our booth flooding it with light.




Ok, from pure darkness in a helmet to now only seeing silhouettes was an improvement… that is unless you have one of the most infamous coin challengers in the legion within your garrison.




Shawn, one of the nicest guys I have ever met since joining the legion, became notorious when he coin challenged everyone on a roller coaster - and was also my own first personal loss in a coin challenge when he threw down at my birthday pirate party in Celebration Orlando. With that established I hope you can understand the paranoia I now carry in the story to follow… as well as have a good laugh.


Standing in trash compactor with my FOTK on, fans blasting in my ears, I watched Shawn’s silhouette move into view and could see he was talking to two other shadows. Sharing the whole day with him had been fun but a little nerve racking as he had made no motion for his coin. Being content that he was engaged in conversation, and I had my coin ready in the front portion of my helmet, I relaxed…






What the… he did it!


Now just so you are aware, my coin is secured with some industrial strength Velcro (as I don’t want that bad boy falling out accidentally) and while normally producing my coin doesn’t take much… on this occasion it did.


I had started calmly removing my coin, but it was stuck on part of the adhesive side of the Velcro! My minute to produce my coin was quickly dwindling down, beginning to scramble I fumbled with my First Order gloves and my coin trying desperately to rip it out of my bucket (Now I understand most would simply remove their bucket and show the coin – but I have a strict bucket on in the presence of the public policy so I couldn’t).


I began to panic – this was an all-out war to tear that sucker out of there.


HA! It came free! I stood there holding my coin proudly – relief washing over me.


What I saw through my visor made me break protocol and I removed my bucket.


All three people had a bewildered look on their face followed by big sheepish grins. Each of them reaching into their pockets, showing their coins as my arm was still extended displaying my coin in very short-lived triumph.


The best way to describe the moment would be that it felt sitcom worthy when I realized what had really happened.


The noise come from the Ax Throwing booths, when it hit the target flat side like a hammer hitting a piece of wood.




Shawn, Lori, and Allen had just spent the last minute watching the First Order Stormtrooper in the photobooth standing there quietly erupt into a frantic spasm flailing about like a mad man with a bee in his helmet for no apparent reason. Then stop calmly and show his coin, and thus initiating a coin challenge.


My jaw dropped – followed by all of us getting a good belly laugh.


But wait – Comedy Hour didn’t end there…


Not 15 minutes later, as Shawn and I are standing there in the photobooth – what should happen to just drop freely onto the ground after I think it’s secured into my bucket?


Oh ya – that little pain in the butt plate had no problems coming back out for an encore performance.


I looked at it on the ground, then looked at Shawn with yet another huge grin on his face and a shake of his head in jest, then picked up the coin and pretended to chuck it into another booth.

The both of us got our fair share of laughs and will never forget the “Haunting of the Coin Curse” that happens at HEX.




Karin and Jason were absolute hits in the booth as Darth Revan and Darth Maladi with their ominous red luminescence.






Then the grand unveiling of Jason’s “Vader Un-masked” pulled people in from every corner – which of course led to some more epic shots.




Near the end of the day, and some attendees still wandering the booths we had no one in the photo booth until Leigh and Liz volunteered. It was stellar to have the Emperor and Republic Commando: “Sev” make their appearance in the booth.




Day 3, the attendance continued to be low, but the floor continued buzzing with positivity and excitement prior to “Showtime”. Again, everyone dancing to the music from the stage and “Good morning!” flying about.


The announcement came over the speakers that HEX was open, the lights went off… and the track lighting came on (I grumbled to myself in playful humor).


Surprisingly, it was steady crowd and the donations were flowing in making time fly by quickly like the Comic Expo.




Before I knew it, the time to finally check out the haunted houses!


Chuck and I headed over the huge doors with fog eerily pouring out from it’s opening - lit in random locations by creepy glowing hues of red, blue, and green. You could only see shadows moving through the mist. Some scurrying in fear, others ripping through with the screaming sound of a chain saw, or slowly moving towards you ghoulishly groaning with what looked to be a broken ankle. I was truly in heaven.


First up – The Zombie Maze – Epic Fun!

With waivers signed that we wouldn’t hurt the zombies (lol) it wasn’t so much scary as it was funny to watch Chuck get attacked no matter what order we were in. I would go first around an obvious attack point and he was attacked from zombies at the rear. I would watch our six, and he would be tackled and overwhelmed up front. By the end of the maze, I hadn’t been touched once and he would have been doomed long ago had it been real life. Hindsight I also noted that I’m not a good friend to be with in a zombie apocalypse – no matter what I did I couldn’t protect the poor guy.


Just like the previous day – the funny didn’t end there.


As we moved through the horror houses, it was Chuck’s turn to endure the Curse of HEX. He continued to be jumped at every angle – leaving me laughing.


I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so full of contentment and happiness. In a trance of magic, sights, and all the components that make Halloween. Engulfed in the feeling of knowing this where I was meant to be, making smiles, meeting new people, appreciating sharing time with my Garrison members, raising money for Make-A-Wish, complete with “This is Halloween” echoing through the hall and CANDY!!!


The last two hours of the day yielded nothing but Exhibitors once again visiting with other exhibitors.


So how does one fill the time when there’s nothing to do?


PAZAAK! (With the opportunity to pay for some lost coin challenges)


Luckily Shawn had his cards, and we sat having some great laughs as the cards revealed our fate. (Cough, cough – I was actually bewildered to beat him for the first time, but still owe him two drinks lol)




The Last Day…

Four days of Expo, from open to close, can wear on even the experienced trooper - no matter how much you pace yourself.


Even I managed to learn how to position myself in my armour to take a quick recharge between shifts.




Time to turn the tide on the actors would had got their scares in the day before – Darth Creepy Mode go!




Anyone who has had the pleasure to troop with Chuck knows that he performs his character like any other and very well – a big huggable caring guy, but when the Nihilus mask goes on the nightmare appears.




With the Sith Lord leading the way back to the Screamfest side of the expo it was epic to watch the reactions of those he would walk by or snuck up behind with his victims completely unaware.




But there was a score to settle… Darth Nihilus returned to the haunted houses, and what happened next, I found priceless.


The horror and recoils that took place as “Creepy” engaged.


One ghoulish actor who had seen me, but not eerie white masked man who was I with, ran towards me to scare but was stopped in his tracks instantly as the red saber ignited. Poor guy started back pedaling and almost lost his footing.




Another actress would fall victim as she opened her scare window to scream at her target only to yip herself when greeted by the vacant unphased stare of Darth Nihilus.




The others dropped character and wanted photos for themselves – my face ached from smiling and laughing so much at the experience of watching “Chuckie” get his revenge.




Unbeknownst to me, there was one more treat HEX would give me before it’s end. While taking a trip to the Exhibitors outside break area to cool off, I received almost my own VIP access pass when I found myself in a conversation with Henry Thomas (Elliot from E.T. / Dad from The Haunting of Hill House), then the cast from Nightmare On Elmstreet (the old ones lol). Who says trooping doesn’t have its perks?!




In the final minutes before the end I breathed in the final smells of baking, coffee, and food trucks.


Reflecting on the days prior to tear down time.





No question, everyone dug deep and held the line covering the shifts and making sure we finished the way we started. Big props to Andrea, who went above and beyond watching the booth and helping where she could with a damaged leg in an air cast.


Had it not been through good leadership by the command staff Natalie and Chuck, and troopers sacrificing part of their Thanksgiving to volunteer (special appreciation for Jason driving in from Red Deer an hour and a half away, Don trooping with his Garindan, Kris for his mischief, and Michelle as Darth Traya) this troop wouldn’t have happened.




You all have my profound thanks for making this experience - I was truly warmed by the camaraderie, seeing you all, and pleasantly reminded of why we do this.


Long live the Badlands Garrison – Whhooo-Wahhh!





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