Long lines at Hal-Con leads to frustrations, refunds and an apology

Hundreds of people wait in line to get a refund for their Hal-Con passes. Julia Wong/Global News

HALIFAX – Organizers are apologizing profusely to hundreds of Hal-Con attendees who could not get into the convention Saturday, but it’s unknown whether that will be enough to smooth things over.

Frustrations were high as Hal-Con organizers told attendees the event, held at the World Trade and Convention Centre, was at capacity and people were not being allowed in, many of whom had already paid for their passes.

It was extremely disappointing news for Alisyn O’Leary, who bought her ticket to Hal-Con in April and spent countless hours working on a costume for the occasion.

“It’s that upsetting feeling you get when you work pretty much all year on something, dedicating all your free time to something…and not getting into something you’ve been waiting for months and months,” she said.

O’Leary was not the only one upset about the organization of the conference.

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Lisa Corey was set to attend Hal-Con for the first time, but after enduring sharp winds and cold temperatures waiting to get in, she eventually left the line.

“Maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow,” she said.

Steffany Cox, who had been line for an hour and a half when she spoke with Global News, was fuming about the situation.

“Those of us who paid thirty-some dollars to come here are standing outside shivering in the cold,” she said.

Graham Ripley had already purchased a weekend pass and had already spent 40 minutes in line when Global News spoke with him.

“I figured that we would be able to get in relatively easy,” he said. “It kinda sucks.”

Chris Wilson was frustrated he had been in line outside for an hour.

“They’re not organized in how [many people are] coming in and going out,” he said.
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“If it were a little bit more organized, I would be a little bit happier.”

It’s a sentiment that was heard over and over again as the convention scrambled to make amends and apologize to attendees.

“We are thanking people so much for their patience and understanding. We are doing everything in our power to make sure they can get in and that their passes are still valid for them.

We do apologize so much,” said Hal-Con spokesperson Lexi Hirtle.

Hirtle said that organizers underestimated demand in the event.

She said unspecified day passes to the convention may have contributed to the problem.

“People bought day passes not knowing which day [they were going to come[. We are going to set it forward next year that there are only certain day passes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday so we don’t run into the same confusion,” she said.

The spokesperson said more than 4,500 tickets to Hal-Con had been sold and adds that organizers will also look at a bigger venue for the event next year.

Hirtle initially told Global News that Hal-Con would not be offering refunds to attendees but the convention changed its mind by mid-afternoon.

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Here is a panoramic shot of the line to get a refund. Julia Wong/Global News

Under the watchful eye of Halifax Regional Police, volunteers handed back cash to attendees returning their day passes and weekend passes.

“I was really excited for it,” said Kortney Foley, as she stood in line for a refund.

“I know Hal-Con is a great event but it would have been great to get in.”

Halifax Regional Police kept a watchful eye on the line for refunds. Julia Wong/Global News

Mike Smallhorn brought his 11-year-old daughter to experience her first Hal-Con but the experience on Saturday has him hesitant about returning.

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“I like supporting local events like this but if it’s this disorganized than I’m not sure I would [return] to be honest,” he said.

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