Fall Ball: A First-Time Event Attendee Recap
By: Alaren Tane
Tar Valon's 2011 Fall Ball was held in beautiful downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, and as a first time event attendee I didn’t know what to expect. I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel after many of my fellow Fall Ballers had already arrived, and I have to say I was more than a little nervous about meeting so many new people for the first time.
However, many of my fears were allayed by the welcome committee shift at the registration table. Ivanor Winshaw and Morrighan Daghdera were friendly and helpful, greeting me as if we had been friends for years. After picking up my registration materials and finding my hotel room, I came back to the meeting room and began to mingle with the other guests. Breaking the ice was easier than I expected, especially after a few libations, and I found that I had a lot more in common with many of my fellow revelers besides our shared interest in Robert Jordan books.
After everyone had a chance to arrive, get settled in, and socialize for awhile, the opening ceremonies began as everyone gathered in the Pennsylvania Room, our designated meeting space for the weekend. Following an introduction and brief speech by Amyrlin-Elect Vivianna Sedai, there was a brief round of introductions and toasts made by all in attendance. This, in turn, was followed by the official ceremonies of the evening, which included the raising of Jenalla Selar to the rank of Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, and the raising of Jeral Mazur to the rank of Gaidin of the Mahdi'in d'ma Dieb (MDD) company. After the official group ceremonies, there were several separate Ajah and Company toasts, and a few more libations. The atmosphere of the first evening was festive, fun, and inviting.
The following day, event goers were free to explore the sites and attractions of the area such as the Chickamauga battlefield, the caverns at Ruby Falls, and the Chattanooga Oktoberfest celebration.
"The waterfall in the cavern was definitely awesome and rather romantic because it was named for the wife of the man who first explored the caves," said Keisha al'Benn, one of several attendees who visited Ruby Falls.
For those of us who chose to stay closer to the hotel, the Oktoberfest celebration was just a few blocks away, and featured live music, craft beers, and several vendor stalls and exhibits.
"There were lots of artisans, a lot of community spirit," said Alyria Savoinya.
Saturday evening was the formal dinner at the Big River Grille. By this time the ice had been broken and everyone was relaxed, friendly, and talkative. Each table was a buzz of laughter and conversation, and I felt a real sense of community with my fellow diners. After dinner we made our way back to the hotel for another night of toasting, socializing, and gaming, which included the highly anticipated Magic the Gathering draft tournament that continued until well after midnight.
Finally, as events wound down on Sunday and we all said our goodbyes and made our travel arrangements, we also rounded up our donations for the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, which I am proud to announce reached the $400 mark. For more information about this wonderful charity, please visit their website at http://www.homelesschattanooga.org .
At the end of the day, it was much harder to leave Chattanooga than I had expected. I made some wonderful friends and had an amazing time. I recommend that anyone who has never been to a Tower event make plans to attend one as soon as you can; I guarantee you will not be disappointed.