Since all of the convention hotels are within “walking distance,” the buses will all leave from the Hilton. I’d prefer that they come get us at the Sheraton, but it’s not too bad of a walk.
We are going to the first competition session, for the Quartet Quarter-Finals. Throughout the past year, barbershop quartets have been competing in their Districts. A full fifty quartets either won their District or scored highly enough to qualify to compete on the International stage, and on this morning the first half of them will compete. The remaining half will perform tonight, but I’ll have rehearsal then.
I’m anxious to get to the 11:00 start of the contest, since for one thing, two VM quartets are competing early, but also because Mickey is supposed to be there to help open the festivities! Hey, I’ve never denied being a big kid at heart. It’s 10:30 when we get to the Hilton, and there is a very long line for the buses, but if they handle transportation as efficiently as they did in Denver, it still won’t be a long wait.
That turns out to be the case. We get on a bus within 15 minutes and are pulling up to the Honda Center right at 11:00. We go through a quick bag check, enter the building, and follow the signs around to our section of seats.
On entering the arena, I’m immediately impressed with the Honda Center. This, the former Anaheim Duck Pond, is the home ice of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, and I’ve sat at my TV watching many a Dallas Stars game that took place here. For the concert/competition set up, it’s great. While containing plenty of seats, it seems a lot more close-in and intimate than many sports arenas.
Our seats are not on the floor, but on the first level of the “bowl” up from the floor, facing the stage, just to the left of center. The stage is some distance away, but we have no problem seeing – plus there are multiple cameras catching every move and every expression of the performers, and large projection screens on either side of the stage. It’s a very well-done production all around.
Since I had to coordinate our ticket purchase among four different families, I ended up buying them directly from the Society rather than through the Vocal Majority. Consequently, we are not sitting with the majority (heh) of VM members. Through happy coincidence, though, they are just over one section away to our left – within sight and shouting distance.
When we entered the Honda Center they were finishing up performing the national anthems (plural – both the “Star Spangled Banner” and “O Canada” –this really is an international organization). Bob & Linda are already in their seats, and I ask if we’ve missed seeing Mickey Mouse. “No Mickey yet,” Bob reports.