Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Christmas Con 2019 in New Jersey




I feel like I'm still riding the glow I got from last weekend's Christmas Con 2019. The three-day adventure was a whirlwind of meeting new people, bumping into celebrities, and finding the right words to express my thoughts about Christmas TV movies. If you don't already know: Christmas Con 2019 was a first-time fan convention for Christmas TV movie fans, in Edison, NJ.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the Writers Panel, and I also had a booth where I was signing books all weekend. When tickets sold out weeks before the event, the rest of the world found out what you and I already know: Christmas TV movies are hugely popular and successful!


Standing in front of my booth at Christmas Con.

Since it was a sold-out event, the crowds were immense! There were thousands of people each day standing in line for the celebrity greetings, photos and autographs. Long lines were formed by attendees for the various panel discussions, and even the photo opps throughout the venue. Christmas Con was like the San Diego ComicCon of Christmas TV movies! But I'd like to add that these crowds were all filled with the holiday spirit. Kindness and generosity filled the convention space. When you inevitably bumped into people while trying to navigate the crowds, everyone was understanding and kind. Trust me--a friendly atmosphere goes a long way!


With Melissa Joan Hart.





The list of Christmas TV movie actors at Christmas Con included Lacey Chabert, Jonathan Bennett, Cameron Mathison, Jackée Harry, Alicia Witt, Nikki Deloach, Erin Krakow, Paul Greene, Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Paevey, Chad Michael Murray, Melissa Claire Egan, Jack Wagner, Melissa Joan Hart, Andrew Walker, Rachel Boston, Danica McKellar, Ashley Williams, and Jesse Metcalfe.

It takes no stretch of the imagination to comprehend how crazy popular these actors were in the celebrity autograph room. THE LINES WERE LONG. What an amazing collection of Christmas TV movie stars! Many of the actors also participated in panel discussions, and the auditorium was jam packed all weekend. There was quite a bit to be excited about at Christmas Con.


The multi-gifted Alicia Witt in concert on Saturday night. 

Saturday night also offered another experience. There was a concert in the auditorium, with Paul Greene performing an acoustic set, and singer/songwriter Alicia Witt sharing her musical gift. Alicia opened her set singing "I'm Not Ready for Christmas"-- a song she wrote and sings in the 2015 Hallmark movie of the same title. By some weird stroke of luck, I found myself seated in the front row at the concert. I loved every minute of it.


The crowds in the auditorium waiting for Lacey Chabert to come on stage for one of the panels. I wasn't kidding about the crowds.





The Writers Panel discussion was on Sunday morning. The author of the great book  Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas Alonso Duralde moderated (and contributed) to our discussion of Christmas TV movies. Alys Murray has written her first Christmas TV movie which will debut later this season on TV.  Joany Kane--who wrote the TV movies "The Christmas Card," "Moonlight & Mistletoe," "Matchmaker Santa" and more, was our expert. Julie Sherman Wolfe has experience writing for TV series. She also wrote the TV movie "Finding Santa" as well as three new Christmas TV movies debuting this year. I joined in to talk about Christmas TV movies in general. Our discussion was well attended and was a lot of fun! I still can't believe I shared the stage with Joany Kane--IS THERE A BIGGER CHRISTMAS TV MOVIE THAN "THE CHRISTMAS CARD!?" The answer is no. What a fantastic experience.


This is Alonso's awesome photo--taken on stage just after our panel.


One of my favorite activities at Christmas Con was the experiential marketing booth by Hallmark in the center of the convention hall. The booth offered several points of participation, and there were several lines of attendees eager to experience them all. You could step into the photo booth and get your photo taken as if you were inside a snowy Christmas tree ornament. You could also get in line for a cup of hot cider and a Christmas cookie. There was also a cozy living room set, complete with a fireplace and TV playing Hallmark Christmas TV movie promos. As you can imagine, the Hallmark booth was extremely popular.


Outside the four-walled booth, the Hallmark windows were actually TV screens showing Christmas TV movie promos.


The Hallmark photo booth was like stepping into a fancy snowglobe/Christmas TV ornament!


I had to get a Christmas cookie, of course.



Victorian carolers harmonized outside the Hallmark booth all weekend long. What a delight!




But the best experience was talking with Christmas TV movie fans all weekend long. I have tabled at other fan conventions/pop culture shows before. I'm used to having to convince people that Christmas entertainment is worthy of attention. At this convention, we were all on the same page as Christmas TV movie fans. So the conversation was elevated and these were well-informed viewers. It was a delight to share my experiences about what makes Christmas TV movies unique and successful. I loved listening to other people's stories and which movies are their favorites. It was just so great to be surrounded by others who "get it." Thanks to everyone who came over and shared their stories with me.


Thanks Tanya :)






With Tim Babb from "Can't Wait for Christmas" podcast.



Christmas Con was also an opportunity to meet several online friends in-person for the first time. I mentioned Christmas movies book author Alonso Duralde above, and it was wonderful meeting him. He's also a film reviewer and podcaster--but you knew that, right? Tim Babb from the Can't Wait for Christmas podcast was there all weekend too. He was a part of the Christmas podcasters panel discussion, along with Brian Earl from the Christmas Past podcast. Brian has had me on his podcast a couple times--most recently talking about my own Christmas TV History audio series. Check out that episode of Christmas Past HERE. Even if we've talked several times, it's always a treat to meet face-to-face.


With Brian Earl from Christmas Past podcast.



Talked with so many great people all weekend. Thanks Ramos family.



The crowds!

There were a few hiccups at Christmas Con due mostly to the large crowds that filled the convention hall. With that many people in one space, you're bound to experience long lines and confusion. I found that the extended lines in the vendors' room, for the food and the restrooms mostly became tolerable by early afternoon each day. The lines for the celebrities were always going to be....long. But I spent some time walking around on both days and found that fans could reach most of the Christmas TV movie stars in reasonable lengths of time. Except for Lacey Chabert--she was busy all weekend long. Good for her! She's earned it.

Thanks again to everyone who came and spoke to me and purchased books. I had a wonderful weekend, and hope there are more Christmas Cons in the future. I'd love to do it again.



Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2020 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com










4 comments:

  1. Amazing! Thanks for sharing, sounds like it was a blast! Hope they continue to do this every year!

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  2. I loved following along via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with you and some of the other attendees. Hopefully, they planners will be able to grow the Con, and keep it going for many years. What a great, different way to kick off the 2019 Christmas season!

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  3. "With that many people in one space, you're bound to experience long lines and confusion. I found that the extended lines in the vendors' room, for the food and the restrooms mostly became tolerable by early afternoon each day."

    This sounds like DragonCon all four days! :-)

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