Editor’s note: Each year, a few lucky Geocaching HQ staff are able to attend a Mega-Event or Giga-Event. Bri Suffety and Cindy Potter recently traveled to Essen, Germany to attend this year’s Giga-Event. Bri (Sassy Bandit) is a Front End Developer and Cindy (Frau Potter) is the Director of Community. Here is Bri’s story of this visit.
Amidst the world’s most geocache-dense region is an old coal factory that had once been threatened with demolition. Mine shafts shoot skyward, brick buildings dot the land and sidewalks curve around the grounds the same way rail tracks used to. It all makes for an incredibly unique setting for 10,000 geocachers to gather for the 2016 Project Glück Auf Giga-Event.
The name – Glück Auf – is an expression used by miners. It was used to say “good luck” to miners to find coal, but also to come back safely from the mine.
The Glück Auf weekend kicked off with registration, lab caches and a Meet&Greet Event that featured live music and a logbook that had cachers “clock-in” with a time card. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun signing a logbook.
The main event was held on Saturday and had a scheduled start time of 10 AM; although, you wouldn’t know by the number of people who were already gathering at 8 o’clock. There were crowds of people everywhere you went, but I was pleased to find it never felt crowded. The organizers made good use of the space and were able to spread out the various activities while still having everything easily accessible on foot.
The activities furthest from the center of the event were the lab caches and games. I welcomed this as the perfect opportunity to go exploring. One of the games I stopped at challenged geocachers to see how long they could hold a safety lamp with their arm extended. Not only were you trying to outlast the other people in your group but you were also trying to beat the best time of the day. When I played, the time to beat for an adult was over 10 minutes. I made it about half that before my shaking arm could take no more.
I was surprised at how many people remained at the event site on Saturday. I had expected an ebb and flow as people came and went. However, there was a lively energy that lasted throughout the day. Picnic tables became the hub for meals and reuniting with friends, the coffee cart and ice cream trucks had a revolving line and the vendor building was bustling with happy shoppers. Even as the light started to fade and the geocaching band, Dosenfischer, started to play, there were still many faces settled in around the stage.
Sunday morning brought the Schicht im Schacht (That’s It) Goodbye Event and clouds that threatened rain. Fortunately, our collective luck held out and scattered sprinkles were all that fell.
As the event wrapped up and hugs started to be doled out, I felt both grateful for the opportunity to attend Project Glück Auf and a little sad that it was time to say goodbye to geocaching friends old and new.
A huge thank you to the Orga-Team for your dedication in creating a memorable, well organized, incredibly fun event that inspired people from around the world to gather in a single location and celebrate the game of geocaching. You deserve a huge round of applause. Glück auf!