Pin Trading - End of an Era?
On Saturday, February 23, I attended the Parkhopper's pin meet hosted by Disney Vacation Club Members and Annual Passholders Vince and Suzy Gredone. This Maryland meet has been a mainstay for pin enthusiasts for many years. Sadly, this was probably the last meeting in their wonderful gallery as the building is about to be sold.
VInce and Suzy are wonderful ambassadors for the Disney pin community. As a small tribute to everything they have done, I want to share a little of their story with you.
Vince: "We got started with the Disney Store Countdown to the Millennium pin series of pins. We had planned many years in advance to be in Walt Disney World for New Year 1999/2000 and when Disney announced pin trading as a new activity we decided to give it a try. It didn't take long before we were hooked. We were not into any other pins before starting with the Disney pins."
Since June 10, 2001, the Gredone's have hosted 14 meets in their Maryland pin gallery. You see, they don't rent a room in a hotel or recreation center, they have a special place that makes Disney fans, well, drool!
The meeting area is comprised of 2 rooms on the upper floor of a commercial townhouse. This gallery is truly a Disney museum. Every available inch of space is covered with a themed pin collection, a framed pin collection, Disney lithos, pin box sets, Disney cuts outs and much more. You could spend hours just wandering the 2 rooms looking at all the memorabilia.
This Saturday was like most of the other Parkhopper meets I have attended. A core of tried and true pin enthusiasts that travel from Ohio, New Jersey and around the Washington DC area had hundreds, maybe even thousands of pins spread out along many tables.
Folks like Shelia and John Rick founders of the Central Jersey Pin Traders drove to the meet. The Ricks are also great ambassadors of the Disney Pin Trading Community.
Vince told me that they had one person, Barbara Bird, travel from California to come to one of the meets. In addition, people have also traveled from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida.
Here is a photo of Vince, greeting folks as they enter the Trading Area!
Like so many other Disney Pin Traders I've spoken to, the hobby is much more than just collecting pins. As Vince explained, "It truly is the friends we have met through pin trading that have made this hobby so special for us. What had started as a pin trading interaction has many times developed into great and long lasting friendships. We would have never met most of the closest friends that we have if we hadn't gotten into pin trading."
James and Linda Dezern, from Virginia, have been regular attendees at the Parkhopper meet!
I asked Vince to tell me about one of their most memorable trades. "The one we do remember quite well was for our Haunted Mansion Dangle pin. Early in our pin trading experience we had seen the Walt Disney Art Classics Celebration Haunted Mansion pin with the three Hitchhiking Ghost dangles which was available for attendees of a 1999 Walt Disney Art Classics Event. It quickly became a most wanted or "holy grail" pin for us. A close friend of ours, Lisa Tobin, was attending one of our pin trading meets and had been able to acquire an extra Haunted Mansion Dangle pin. We worked on making a trade for the pin in a very relaxed manner throughout the meet and continued into the next day. We were finally able to finish a successful trade in the living room at our house just as time was running out before we had to take Lisa to the airport. A great trade with a great friend!"
From the first time I met Vince and Suzy, I felt an immediate connection. They are warm, friendly, kind, and generous. They have done a great deal to enhance the Disney pin trading community. And, not only do they provide the space for the meet, they also provide food and drink to help those so wrapped up in trading, they would have other wise forgotten to eat.
During Saturday's meet, I sat and listened to the table talk. Some folks had laptops and were visiting PinPics.com (an online catalogue of virtually every Disney pin and it's relative value) while others were checking out their want lists.
I enjoyed listening to Robyn talk to a new pin trader about the hobby and the community.
I watched as folks intensely searched for their "holy grail" and pins to finish collections. One lady had a photo of her "holy grail" pinned to her shirt. A holy grail is that elusive pin, very difficult to find, that you need for your collection.
One gentleman had a "Pete" T-shirt on and was looking for Pete pins for his collection.
There was the young girl and her dad, fans of All Ears, who came by to trade and say hi!
It's always a delight to see 2 traders smile at the end of a trade, thrilled with the new addition(s) to their collection.
And, there isn't just pin trading that goes on, Vince and Suzy have give away drawings and also games that are sprinkled throughout the event.
Cover your card BINGO is one of the favorites. The cost? A Limited Edition (LE) 3000 or less pin for each bingo card you want. Be the first to cover your card and you win the bag of LE pins. And once Bingo is yelled, the whole group erupts in cheers for the lucky winner!
As I mentioned in the beginning, this was quite likely the last Parkhopper Pin meet. The event and more importantly, the gathering of this special group of people will be greatly missed!
A word from Vince and Suzy: "We would like to thank everyone who has attended our pin meets over the past seven years. We have had a lot of great trades, fun times, and fantastic memories with all of our pin friends!"
A tip of my Mickey Ears to a wonderful couple that know what Sharing the Magic is all about!