Hi! Here’s my report about our trip to see Sean in DC today. Four billyboyd.net fans, a toddler, and a couple of Fan Club members met him in front of the Lincoln Memorial:
Today, Gonzai, Alison, and PT1981 and I (and Tibby, my 3-year-old) went down to The Mall in D.C. Yes, on September 11th. Also there were Kyra and Blaze from the District of Dark Whispers, a Yahoogroup for local LOTR Fan Club members. We got there at 3:30, but things didn’t really get started until 4. There were kids with flags from all over the world, kids holding huge pictures of other kids, and a chorus of kids in white with red-sequined vests. Sean was essentially the Master of Ceremonies, and after giving a sweet speech about how wonderful it is that people put forth such efforts for their communities (mentioning the construction crew at the Pentagon, where he’d been that morning, who had on their own declared that they’d get it rebuilt within a year of 9/11, and succeeded.), spent the afternoon introducing people who spoke and sang. Including singer Kelly Clarkson, who had a crowd of fans there, as well. One of the first things he did, however, was to thank the LOTR fans who’d come out after reading his message on TORN, and we all cheered.
As it was late afternoon, and we were facing west towards the Lincoln Memorial (we were at the edge of the reflecting pool, at the bottom of the steps), the sun was setting in our eyes. So, thinking that we’d have a better chance of getting an autograph if we were closer to his eventual exit, we left the small audience area (where we were standing anyway, so it wasn’t as though we were losing seats), and went and stood behind the metal gates up behind the stage. This seemed to be a much better vantage point, as whenever Sean wasn’t introducing anyone he was in the VIP tent on the side discussing the upcoming introductions and what he was to say. So we got good views of him doing this. Also, Tibby was pleased because it meant she got to go up and see the police horses and climb on the barriers. So when Kelly finished her last song and the whole thing ended, about 5:30, she took off and most of the crowd drifted away. We noticed that at point that the Park Police officer who’d been guarding the stage area had left, so we all went in. Sean was letting about a hundred people take pictures with him, one at a time. He had a guy with him that was acting as a personal assistant, and he would coordinate the various interviews that people did with Sean. It seemed like he did half a dozen, including one for eXtra and one for Entertainment Tonight.
I sidled up to Sean, and just gathered up my nerve and said, “Sean!” He turned around and shook my hand with a big smile, and I said, “Um. We’re Billy’s fans.” pointing to my bb.net T-shirt from I-Con in April. And he said, “Oh!” like he was aware of us, and “That’s greeeeeat” or something in a broad Scottish bray that we all laughed at. So I pulled out a Wee Scarvie (of course) and explained what it was, and that several cast members had them. So he held it up and we gathered in for a picture, and I said, “Wait! Where’s my daughter?” Tibby was off to the side somewhere, and I called her to come up and held her during the shot. Unfortunately, that one’s unlikely to come out as it was taken by a girl holding it in one hand. It was a digital camera, and it’s likely to be blurry as she didn’t hold it with two hands. Ah well.
Sean immediately introduced himself to Tibby, who got a sudden case of the shys. Now bear in mind that she’s 3, and hadn’t had a nap all day, and it was nearly 6pm by this time. So every time he tried to shake her hand or talk to her, she buried her face against me. Silly wee thing. I asked him (shaking his hand again) if he was going to do any signing later, and he said, “I dunno. He’s the boss.” Grinning, and indicating the guy who was acting as his PA (Personal Assistant).
He was whisked away to more interviews, but I asked his PA if Sean was going to be able to do any, and he said that he had a couple more interviews, and then would be coming back this way. (Turns out the “PA” was a good friend of his. Todd, I think his name was, who looks a bit like Paul Bettany, actually, and is apparently Ali’s godfather. So he’s obviously just a really good friend of Sean’s. But he was doing a good job of coordinating Sean’s activities, actually. Wonder if he wants a job? /g/ )
At one point someone asked him about how his mom was doing. He said that she was doing well, and that she was a trooper and he was really proud of her. He had also noted in one his speeches how proud he was of his family for actually being confident enough to let him get on an airplane in L.A. and fly to D.C. the day before September 11th. He basically thanked Christine on camera, and I hope she sees it.
So we hung out on the sidelines as it were, and waited for him to be free. And indeed, once the camera crews packed up, and the kids’ groups who’d been bussed in from all over got their group photos, it was pretty much him and the 7 of us! He signed everything we had, and was actually impressed by the Topps card of Sam, which he hadn’t seen before. Gonzai showed him some of the work in her portfolio and had him sign an original artwork (I got a picture of this, too. Using both hands this time.). Then I asked him if we could have some more photos. Kyra introduced herself and Blaze and Gonzai as members of the official Fan Club, and got a group shot with him. Then some of us got single shots with him, and I handed him another Wee Scarvie (although he protested that he had the first one in his pocket) and asked for a better picture. He held it up for a couple of shots, and I told him that John Rhys-Davies had put his under his nose, so he goofed around with it, slinging it over his shoulder like Sam’s pack, and I got a shot of that, too. I’ll put them up on my Wee Scarvies page: http://www.jennie.8k.com/catalog.html when I get them. (I apologize in advance for the pop up ads.)
Sean Astin is a really sweet wonderful guy. He makes you feel instantly like he’s known you for years. When he was trying to put Tibby at ease, he referred to himself as “Mommy’s friend”. Awwwwww! You know Mommy was chuffed.
He asked if Tibby was feeling better and more up to talking, and I said that it seemed so, but she still got all shy when he tried to shake her hand. He was hunkered down talking directly to her, and said “Well, I’m right in her face and she’s embarrassed.” But he said to her, “You know, this is my little girl.” and he opened up his wallet and showed her a picture of Ali! He said, “She gets shy when she talks to people she doesn’t know, too. And I’ve told her that if Daddy introduces her to the person, then it’s all right to talk to them. Isn’t that a good thing for me to have taught her?” And Tibby buried her face in my side again. Ah well. Sean said, “You know, you’re really very special! You’re the only one here who doesn’t want to talk to me!” ROTFL!!!!! I think he spent more time talking to my three year old than anyone else at the event.
But then, that’s Sean, isn’t it? He loves kids, as we all know. The event was about young people all over the nation and the world working to better their communities. Doing community service and helping other people. It was a sweet and touching event, and I’m terribly glad that we all were able to go, and to meet Sean Astin. He’s a wonderful person, and a real sweetheart.