By Paul Wein
Our guide through the town of the same name as our favorite show was – believe it or not – Ned – sort of. Everyone’s favorite one armed voice deprived veteran was actually based on the Reverend D. Michael Smith – a meteorite collector and one of the less then five hundred residents of South Park, Colorado.
Our day’s tour of South Park began with a stop at the one and only restaurant in the town, Eagle’s Nest. Servicing a town of less then five hundred – it’s no secret that they rarely have busy days. So when a busload of hungry tourists waltzed in – they were blown away – and totally unprepared for our arrival.
Seeing the look of dismay on the faces of the one and only waitress, cook, and busboy/owner – I decided to have some fun. I figured that if I was actually in South Park, Colorado – the home of the show that brought me such joy that it made me write a review of the movie that accidentally got me a paying job with that very show – that I would make it a visit to remember. So I walked into the kitchen, grabbed and apron – and hired myself as waiter/busboy at the Eagle’s Nest in South Park, Colorado.
Besides the fact that it was fun to do – it was incredible to think that I was in the very town that South Park is based on with almost three dozen of my most loyal members of the South Park Booster Club. Instead of typing and/or talking to them over the telephone – I was serving them all food in a diner in South Park – and people wonder why I love this job.
After the meal – which I got for free because I actually earned my keep, myself and other attendees put on a play in South Park outfits. It was a blast to dress up as Kyle in South Park and act out a skit with other club members in South Park costumes as well. But I have to admit that the biggest thrill I got was when Bob gave me an award congratulating me on my 300th column. That really touched me and made me realize how amazing being Moderator really is.
When we arrived back at the hotel – we all converged back in my room and went to South Park again – but this time – on TV. Since we spent the day in the actual town of South Park – why not spend the night in the fictional one? So we turned down the lights and watched a two-part episode of South Park. I have watched South Park countless times. Sometimes I watched it with my friends, sometimes I watched it alone – and for the first time tonight – I watched South Park with the members of my Booster Club.
As soon as it came on, we all sat quietly staring at the screen and laughed at everything because all of us possessed the same knowledge of the show. Prudence even commented that it was great to watch South Park with people who didn’t need to have a single part of the show explained to them.
As nice as that statement was – it was Tick that said something that really made this Convention for me. I was standing in the doorway of my room with Terry, Tick, Bob and Arthur when I asked the group if they thought the fact that we were all together in the same room was as amazing as I thought it was. Tick responded by saying that if it wasn’t for me – none of us would be here this weekend. He then said that I should have felt like I was not traveling to meet strangers – but to meet family. As incredibly thankful as I am for his kind words – I have to disagree with him. Twice a day since September 1, 1999, I have sent out a Digest to the members of the South Park Booster Club. And previous Moderators have done the same thing since 1997 – so the fact that I simply send each and every member of the Digest an e-mail is not why everyone is together this weekend. The reason we are all here is because if all of us can sit behind a computer and type words on a keyboard and create the camaraderie that we have developed for the past year – then why not fly to South Park itself and experience that camaraderie in person – and together?
So as the yesterdays of the First Annual South Park Convention begin to outnumber the tomorrows – I take solace in the fact that I was at least able to travel through the Rocky Mountains and into the town of the same name of my favorite show – and the reason for it’s creation – with the most loyal posters of a Digest for the very show about the town we were standing in.
Can you name me another club, group, or organization that can take an e-mail discussion list and turn it into a weekend-long live Digest in the town of the show itself? Absolutely not – which is why South Park is still the best show on television – and why we are all here.
Please do not remind me that I have to go home tomorrow.
Friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation.
Goin’ down to South Park, gonna leave my woes behind.
Ample parking day or night, people shouting, ‘Howdy neighbor.’
Headin’ on down to South Park gonna see if I can’t unwind.
So c’mon down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.”
Primus – South Park Theme