Meetup Report: Lolita Day Picnic

Meetup Report: Lolita Day Picnic

This year I was determined to have some sort of gathering on International Lolita Day, which falls on the first Saturday of June and the first Saturday in December. It’s a biannual holiday so that we can have the opportunity to wear our finest warmer- and cooler-weather coordinates. It’s also more fun! Lolita Day is not an “official” holiday–it’s something created by Western lolita who wanted a day of celebration. For that, I fully support it!

It’s clear that there would never be a bank holiday in honor of lolita fashion, but if there can be days like “National Strawberry Ice Cream Day” (January 15, for the record), why can’t we have an “International Lolita Day?” All that it really takes to create a holiday is enough momentum. It starts somewhere, is little-known, those interested in it celebrate and spread the word, and eventually it gains enough momentum to be more than just the inkling of a good idea. I love celebrating, and I know I’m not the only one! I hope that in the future, International Lolita Day becomes part of the core knowledge of anyone gaining an interest in the fashion. I never need an excuse to get dressed up, but I certainly won’t turn one down~

Mingling Amongst Ourselves
I was so happy to see new faces and talk to old friends! It was a great meetup.

To try and make the meetup in Chicago as accessible as possible on Lolita Day, I planned a potluck picnic at the free zoo. I didn’t count on the increasingly dismal weather forecasts. For the week before the picnic many potential attendees worried about the talk of thunderstorms. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of suitable rain plans–there isn’t really anywhere in the city for a large group to meet and have a picnic indoors without renting something, and the group had outgrown the capacity of my tiny home. The weather forecast isn’t very accurate in our area due to the effects of the lake, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for a good day.

Of course, as soon as I left the house to head to the zoo, it started raining. We trudged along anyway, as I would not be convinced to cancel without seeing lightning. Nearly everyone was sending me messages or calling to ask if it had been canceled, though! We were all very concerned with the status of our intended event. My small group arrived very early and right in the heart of the downpour, so we huddled in the conservatory and tried to avoid the leaky spots. (It’s a beautiful vintage building, so it isn’t water-tight in the slightest!)

By the time several of us had assembled, the rain was over. Unfortunately, the grass was wet, which complicated the picnic a bit. I wound up sending the group about a block or so north to a covered gazebo so we wouldn’t be sitting on blankets soaked with rainwater, then waited for the rest of the guests. I wish I had brought a checklist, because it was very difficult for me to figure out who had arrived and who was missing, since no-one notified me that they weren’t going to come.

It’s not a meetup without lots of picture-taking, although honestly a lot of the time most of us forget.

After a leisurely, enjoyable lunch, we headed back to the zoo. At this point the weather was gorgeous~ The rain had alleviated some of the humidity, although it wasn’t exactly “dry” weather, and the sun was shining but the clouds still remained. I appreciated that it wasn’t blazing hot, but also had the chance to give my parasol lots of use between the rain and sunshine. We meandered around the zoo for a while, and then split so those who wanted to ride the carousel would have the opportunity.

The zoo has a lovely carousel that is truly a work of art. It has 48 handcrafted endangered species, most of which can also be seen at the zoo in a non-carved form. It sits near the back of the zoo on a structure custom-built to hold it, beneath a canopy to protect it from most of the weather. Thus the paint isn’t faded from sunlight, we didn’t have to worry about it being wet from the rain, and it’s always a bit cooler on the carousel even though it doesn’t go very fast. I didn’t get any pictures, although I really wanted to, because I left my camera with my husband and I was holding everyone’s bags.

As much as I adore that carousel, I’ve actually never ridden it! Isn’t that silly? Maybe one of these days I’ll actually go on, but I don’t know how I could choose which animal to be my steed–they are all so beautiful~

Polar Bear
I love the polar bears~ Seeing this one out and active made me so happy!

After everyone had enjoyed the ride, we rejoined the other group by the polar bears, took pictures, and enjoyed each other’s company. There were so many people at this meetup that I hadn’t had the chance to meet before, so it was very exciting! Lately there has been a lot happening in the suburbs, which I can rarely get to, or events on Sundays when I’m trapped in the office. It was nice to finally connect a face with a name or identify a girl with her picture. I enjoyed being a part of so many conversations~

Slowly different members began to depart, and those that remained headed over to some tables to have a “second” picnic. A few people had arrived a bit late, and many of us had leftover items. There’s almost always an abundance of food, but it can come in handy if the meetup lasts a few hours longer than you might have thought it would and everyone is feeling hungry again. My husband was glad to have people drink more of the tea we brought, since it made the bag he was carrying lighter and lighter~

Soon it was time for me to head home, while some attendees went to Chinatown for dinner. That would have been kind of fun, but since I had to be up early for work the next day it just didn’t seem like a good choice. I had a really wonderful time meeting so many people, I can’t wait to see everyone again~! ♥

Meetup Report: Spring Zoo Picnic

Meetup Report: Spring Zoo Picnic

One of my favourite meetup activities is picnicking, because it’s an inexpensive way to sit around, have a discussion, and enjoy a meal. Most events last longer than a person can usually go without being hungry, so it’s good to build in a meal or snack–but stopping at a restaurant or coffee shop can quickly become expensive. I love picnics because everyone brings something, and it can be done potluck style or brown-bag-lunch style–either each attendee brings something to share or each person brings her or his own lunch. One of these days I very much want to have a tea-time picnic and croquet game. ♥ I’m sure there will be a summer day perfect for that kind of activity; I just need to find a croquet set I can borrow!

This Friday there was an impromptu picnic at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I adore the Lincoln Park Zoo because I live nearby and it is a free zoo. It’s like going to a park, but with animals–there are no turnstiles or ticket booths, you just wander in through one of the many gates in the fence that surrounds the zoo, and wander out whenever you’re bored. It isn’t the largest or most complete zoo, but I like how it operates. In fact, whenever I’m feeling blue I like to go and watch the penguins for a little while; they’re my favourite. ♥

I was the last one to the picnic because I had an eye exam that morning and baked cookies for the picnic when I got home, not realizing that wouldn’t give me enough travel time. I started to suspect that while the cookies were baking, but at the point I didn’t want to leave without the cookies, if they were going to make me late. They were still warm when we spread everything out for the picnic. I had a chance to use the picnic blanket that I received as a wedding present; it worked wonderfully! (And a good thing I brought it, too, as no-one else had remembered one~)

Several of the girls who attended were lolita I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting previously–it was very nice to finally attach a face and name to the comments on our local community. ♥ It seemed that everyone was having a nice time and enjoying the conversation. My poor husband was a bit out of sorts because he is afraid of wasps; he interpreted every piece of dust or leaf caught in the wind as a potential wasp.

Zoo's Lion House
Miss Lyz and me–the only one where my eyes aren’t half-open. We’re in the big cat hall~

After our picnic we packed everything up and entered the zoo. We criss-crossed it several times and saw just about everything, from the lions and leopard in the cat house to the penguins~ I also love the brush-tailed bettong, because it hops around. It’s so cute! I tried to take a picture of it, but it’s in the Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House, which is kept very dark.

We spent a lot of time over by the polar bear section! The polar bears have a very large pool, and their habitat is visible from two levels–one area that is higher up and allows you to see the ground level of the polar bears’ area, and another that is low and next to a glass window into the pool. The polar bears love to swim, so they’re usually underwater. However, when we were on the lower side the polar bears were hiding indoors, away from the public, probably due to the temperatures. We played around with the “life-sized” cut out of a polar bear that was on the wall next to a replica of a polar bear’s paw and other facts about them. A polar bear did eventually come out, and we did see it, but it didn’t go for a swim while we were around.

The polar bear section is very popular, especially for children, and often there is a zoo worker outside the glass viewing section ready to discuss polar bears with children. They tend to carry props, like polar bear “fur” or “claws.” Even without these workers, there are still the polar bear fact plaques. We played around with the “life-sized” polar bear chart. I didn’t catch very many pictures, because my husband was the one holding the camera, but I had my moment to play with it, too. The water in the polar bears’ pool looked so refreshing that I felt Lait probably wanted to be a polar bear at that moment.

Swim, Polar Bunny Bear!
I couldn’t resist making him “swim” in their pool. He is white and fluffy, after all.

When we had seen just about everything in the zoo, we finally started to part ways. I really enjoyed meeting some new lolita and spending more time with those I knew already. This weekend’s meetup was rather last-minute, but I want to plan another picnic for a future date–that many more lolita have the opportunity to attend. After all, we didn’t even head to the “farm” section of the zoo…or look in the conservatory. There’s so much to do for free in that area; I want to take advantage of it.