July 16th, 2006
Pembroke, Massachusetts

Event Stats:
Location: Herring Run Park
Event Year: First
Attendance: 25
Theme: "Alice in Wonderland"
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
Event Photos:

Photo Credits:
Bruce O'Bryan Photography

The Cosplay Tea party was created by cosplayers Lolita and SakiB, who wanted to host a cosplay social gathering outside of conventions. They begin an online discussion about the event on which caught the attention of quite a few local cosplayers. Although the event originally did not have a specific theme aside from the Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion style, some of the cosplayers planning to attend decided to do Lolita-inspired versions of popular characters from Alice In Wonderland. The idea caught on amongst those discussing the event in the online forum, and by the day of the party, all 25 guests showed up in various outfits inspired by Lewis Carroll's Wonderland universe. In addition to enjoying tea and delicious treats, the party included games of cards and croquet, and photo shoot sessions with the event's official photographer, Bruce O'Bryan.

Sketch and Shiva's Event Breakdown:
When Shiva first heard about the event on she wasn't sure if she was interested in going until the Alice In Wonderland theme was introduced and the guest list was missing a Cheshire Cat. At that point, she knew she had to join in and, with only a few days until the party, scoured her closet for items she could use to throw together a Lolita-esque Cheshire Cat costume. She also decided to make ginger snaps as a treat for the party, which she figured would go well with tea. Sketch was good friends with Lolita at the time and was already planning on going and helping set up, but he similarly pulled together items in his closet to throw together a Mad Hatter costume.

While Sketch was already well-acquainted with most of the crowd going, Shiva was a little nervous; other than Crazy Flower she didn't really know anyone and it would be her first cosplay event outside of a convention and she would be wearing a costume in public for the first time. Shiva was very relieved when Sketch pulled up next to her car in the parking lot and she was greeted by a familiar face, grateful he recognized her from their cosplay chess encounter earlier in the year and that she had someone she knew to talk to, at least to start. She needn't have worried however; everyone was very friendly and looking forward to meeting their fellow local cosplayers in person. It took about 20 minutes for the park to get set up and everyone to adjust their costume pieces, but soon there were plenty of people to chat with and more than enough food to go around.

The dedication to the Wonderland theme was impressive, especially given the short notice everyone had to pull together their costumes. Lolita and Michela both had very different yet effective interpretations of the curious Alice, Courtney and Michi as cute White Rabbits, Crazy Flower chose the obscure Dinah, SakiB, Sketch, and RhiChan all did their own unique versions of the Mad Hatter, Christa was the March Hare, ChibiRinoa and Henry weres an adorable Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Kurthy made a gorgeous Caterpillar, GacktChowder was a creative Ten of Hearts, and Guardian Lulu and Girl_Shuichi both portrayed the formidable Red Queen.

Bruce, the Anime Boston official photographer, was on hand as the photographer for the event, and he made sure to take the time to so a photo series with each guest individually. He also did an excellent job setting up group shots of us hiding behind trees while Alice wandered in the foreground, swapping in and out the duplicate characters. We also had a blast acting out scenes, such as having Alice chase the White Rabbit down a hole in the rocks, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, or the Caterpillar lazily smoking her hookah much to Alice's frustration.

When we were tired of taking photos, we played croquet, snacked on treats, sipped tea and challenged each other to card games as we got to know each other better. Shiva enjoyed chatting with Kurthy and Christa who she recognized from but had yet to meet in person; they all decided they needed to hang out more in the future. We also had a blast talking to each other for the first time since we'd met at Anime Boston a few months earlier; Sketch wouldn't let Shiva leave without giving him her AIM screen name and Shiva surprised herself by giving him her real one.

The only drawback to the event was that it happened to be 90 degrees out and sunny which had many of us sweating in the heat, especially those wearing several layers like Sketch was in his Mad Hatter tuxedo. Shiva tried to beat the heat by having Bruce take her photos in the Herring Run brook as the cool spray misted her arms and face. Some of the other cosplayers took off their shoes and stockings and waded in the water to cool themselves off. Despite the heat, the sunshine made for a beautiful atmosphere and we had fun despite the sweat. Perhaps if this event is held again in the future, it can be done earlier in the summer before the sweltering temperatures really settle in for the season.

Overall, the party was a rousing success, and Lolita and SakiB hope to make it an annual event. It was an excellent venue for meeting other local cosplayers and provided a welcoming atmosphere for making friends and strengthening community connections. We certainly plan to attend again if it is held next year. Hopefully next time we'll have a little more time to prepare our costumes!