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I had the opportunity to hug and meet so many people! I felt a bit like Santa Claus each time I handed out a canvas bag with a NSC 98 T-shirt, a 50th Edition SCRABBLE® board, a folder, and a pen inside. There was much excitment in seeing the board for the very first time. One person even asked Jane Williams if she would be supplying batteries to use with the timers! Turns out this set comes with a small timer that wouldn't work for our tournament purposes, but that stands the chance of bringing living room SCRABBLE® players into the fold of timed games. Jane assured her that we wouldn't be using the new game's timers or tiles. These tiles, still wooden, are painted blue with a gold letter pressed in, much the same as the standard wooden tiles we've seen.
By 7:30pm, we were all gathered together on the 2nd floor of the Fairmont for the kick-off cocktail party. They don't have them often, but when the National SCRABBLE® Association decides to throw a party, they sure know how! More than 700 people jammed into the room decorated with large wooden SCRABBLE® tiles and SCRABBLE® banners. An ample supply of hors d'oeuvres were enjoyed by all. Three or four bars with free beverages, including wine and beer, were arranged on all sides of the room. To accommodate late arrivals, the NSA had set up a late registration table near the room's entrance. Formal clothing from evening gowns to dashikis mingled with Hawaiian T-shirts and flip-flops. Spouses and children, often unseen at tournaments, were freely socializing with players. World SCRABBLE® champions, former National SCRABBLE® champions, and everyone who ever aspired to be either reaquainted themselves with one another. There were Anagrams players, people with camcorders, and even a flower twirler adding to the unique ambiance.
Karrie Bowe, division 3, told me during registration that she wasn't sure her husband would show up since he was at a major golf tournament. If he did lousy, he would join her in Chicago. If he did well, he would skip the SCRABBLE® tournament to finish out the golf event. His call came in during the reception and I happened to know where Karrie was sitting. When I delivered the news, she was both happy for his success and disappointeed that he wasn't going to be in Chicago.
Not long afterward, the call of deep dish pizza drew me and a few friends out onto the streets of Chicago. By day or by night, the Miracle Mile sure is a beautiful walk!
-- Sherrie Saint John, Internet Reporter, NSC98
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