Great Gaming Stories — GenCon History: Bagpipes at Dawn

As I will be heading out to GenCon in a little over a week, I thought I would relate one of my favorite GenCon stories.

This occurred back sometime between 1979 and 1984, the years I attended GenCon at the University of Wisconsin / Parkside campus. Now Parkside, as everyone terms it, was a commuter campus without dorms or housing, so everyone attending would stay in motels and hotels up and down I‑94 between Milwaukee and Chicago. That also meant that we would drive up Wednesday night to arrive early and not-so-bright Thursday morning to register. Registration was through the student union center building, so everyone would line up in the parking lot before the basement door in the early pre-dawn light and mist of early Autumn Wisconsin.

Now the main buildings at Parkside were built on a series of low rolling hills, four of them connected with a long, wide corridor stretching between them. The entrance into registration was in the basement and was actually dug into the hillside at the level of the parking lot, whereas the main floor was set on the top of the hill, which was the same for the other three buildings.

That one Thursday morning, as everyone was waiting for the registration to open, a lone bagpiper in full regalia appeared out of the mist from behind the nearest hill, backlit in the pre-dawn, and piped for his audience for several minutes before disappearing back into the mist behind the hill.

And that, folks, is the definition of eerie.

Whoever you were, you lone bagpiper, you are still remembered today.

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