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Photo by Friderich Weber
Pennsic-goers crowd the line at Troll on Saturday morning.

By: Nicolaa de Bracton, Features Reporter and PI Staff

The biggest pre-Pennsic story was barely a story at all.
Faced with unprecedented torrential rains that flooded many areas of Cooper's Lake, like the Swamp and Bog, the Mayor and the Pennsic staff took the unusual step of closing a number of blocks. Almost three weeks before Land Grab weekend, the Pennsic Mayor and Cooper management toured the campground to identify flood-prone areas. The decision was made to close certain camping blocks and portions of roads. As a result there were sixteen camps relocated, including the Mayor and Land1. An announcement of this decision was made to the Pennsic website as well as to social media, like Facebook and Twitter. The Coopers and Pennsic staff put in many hours laying down extra gravel, doing their best to alleviate the mud and to smooth rutted areas.
Restrictions were also placed on storage trailers usually towed on and off campsites by Coopers' staff. Campers were advised that changes to landscape or building of structures needed to be cleared with the War Room first. Swimming and wading were also banned due to higher-than-normal water levels, debris in the water, and fast-moving currents.
The good news is that, subsequent to these changes, the torrential rains largely ceased; weather returned to more typical patterns for Western Pennsylvania in mid-summer. This has allowed many areas to dry out. It is expected that water tables are still higher than normal, and storms may produce flooding more quickly as a result.
Rather than hip-waders, land sharks and rubber duckies, the story for land grab weekend was the huge numbers that turned out, leading to hours-long lineups for Troll. Pennsic staff reported on their Facebook page that In the first 24 hours, 2,777 Pennsic goers passed through Troll (close to a fourth of all those pre-registered). By Saturday evening, that number was up to 3,377. Troll was simply overwhelmed by the unexpected number of people who showed up on Zero. No one expected those numbers.
The most common question of friends seeing each other for the first time after Troll may have been “How long did you have to wait to get through Troll?” Answers seemed to range from “There was no wait,” to “as long as four hours,” depending on the day and time that someone arrived.
The new “early in” system for Zero Night went phenomenally well, according to Pennsic Mayor Baron Illiame Uaine. By 1:45 am on Saturday, when over 2,000 people had been processed through Troll, 99 of 113 total camping blocks had settled their arrangements, andwere setting up. One motivation for the “early in” system was an attempt to end the Zero Night partying on the battlefield, and move partying into the camps, the Mayor said.
There is more to this change than that, he went on to say. This is the first step in moving on to an “all on line” land registration in the future. Several other steps in the process have to be introduced. It had already been decided that next year for Pennsic 45, Troll on Zero Night will open at 9 am instead of at noon.
What is going to happen with what is traditionally called “Hell Weekend” that begins today when the site fees drop to the one-week only rate? Traditionally, this is the busiest week at Troll, and the number lines of cars waiting on the Battlefield is in the double digits. Given that photos of the car lines last Saturday and Sunday looked like the middle weekend instead of the first one, what can the volunteers at Troll expect? Probably more of the same. Baron Illiame pointed out to me that the numbers at Troll were only less than 2% higher than last year, so a busy middle weekend can still be expected.
That means that more volunteers are still needed at Troll. Training can be done “on the job.”. Remember that Troll will be open 24 hours a day from12:01 am Friday to midnight Sunday, and volunteers are needed for all shifts. Volunteers for Morale services will also be needed to deliver snacks, sandwiches, and beverages to Troll workers who are too busy to leave their stations for a meal. Ask anyone who worked Troll in that first critical 48 hours last weekend how welcome the food and drink is. You can sign up, or ask about other places where volunteers are needed, at the Volunteer Coordinator’s desk near Information Point in front of Cooper’s Store.