Tolkien Superfan Leads Chicago’s Middle-Earth, Plans 'Hobbit' Events

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Tolkien Superfan Leads Chicago’s Middle-Earth, Plans 'Hobbit' Events
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Melanie B. on the far right in the Dragon*Con Parade. (Photo courtesy of Melanie B.)

A movie adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is set to release on December 14, 2012, and while many Chicagoans are counting the days, one Chicago-area Tolkien superfan has been waiting years. Not only is Melanie a "Lord of the Rings" (LOTR) collector, but she has also taken her enthusiasm from being a fan to leading Chicago's Middle-earth.

The Start of Her Impressive Collection

Melanie's journey to Middle-earth began in the early 2000s, when her dad took her to see "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring." "I was hooked. I ended up seeing the movie about nine times in the theater," she recalled. Within a month or so, she had read all the "Lord of the Rings" books and begun a collection that included LOTR statues, action figures, costumes, memorabilia, and more. She has since slowed down the collection, though. "I've gotten much less into the stuff, because I just built up way too much, and I'm not going to be a hoarder!"

Rise as Chicago's Middle-Earth Leader

Melanie got her start as a fan looking for events and other J.R.R. Tolkien fans and ended up becoming the line party organizer for Chicago, coordinating events for fellow Chicago-area fans, called line parties, for the movie premieres. "I honestly just joined the line party at TheOneRing.net. I was in it for a while, and the moderator wasn't planning anything, so I wrote the site. In doing so, the site appointed me the organizer, so I didn't really start the fan group, I just inherited it." Since then, she has organized opening-night events and smaller Tolkien-related shindigs throughout the years.

Meeting the Actors

When asked if she had met any actors from the Tolkien movies or attended any special events, Melanie didn't disappoint. "I have met many of them at various conventions. I attended The Gathering of the Fellowship in Toronto both times that they held it and have also been to local shows like C2E2 and Wizard World. I must say, Sean Astin is truly a class act. I also really loved Bruce Hopkins, who played Gamling, in person."

Favorite Scenes and Characters

When asked to pick her favorite LOTR scenes and characters, Melanie responded, "Do I have to pick? I mean, I love Eowyn. I've always loved strong female characters, so she stuck out to me in the movies. However, I really love the loyalty and friendship that the character of Samwise Gamgee shows in the stories. Oh, scenes, I do love the musical scene where the beacons are being lit in 'The Two Towers,' and I love the part in 'Return of the King' where Rohan arrives at Gondor."

Plans for Opening Night of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

Melanie has been busy organizing Chicago Tolkien fans for the upcoming release of the first of the three "Hobbit" movies. "We are attending the midnight show at the Navy Pier IMAX, and we'll be doing various things from trivia to costume contests," she said. "I'm excited to see how it goes, and I'm grateful that the Navy Pier IMAX is being so awesome in having us." She also mentioned that she'll some giveaways and prizes that are sure to surprise people.

Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.