I didn’t realize when I made an off-handed remark to Wayne Wood about sleeping in a teepee—or “tipi” as he prefers—in the middle of Hemming Plaza that he would not only encourage me to do it but organize a “Good Night, Kerry!” party and invite hundreds of people, including a sitarist, hand drummer and hoola hoop artist, to join in the festivities. (Marshmallow roasting was also part of the celebration.)
It was an amazing experience, and I’m so happy I had to opportunity to do it. Apparently, lots of folks were interested in my experience too and have been asking me about it all week. Here, then, are the five most asked questions—and answers.
(Click the image below to watch First Coast News’ story on the teepee. And yes, Laura and I were inside while reporter Jacob Long was doing his live shot. We should have popped out and scared the paPOOse out of him.)
Why did you do it?
A couple of reasons: 1) When “The Most Interesting Man in Jacksonville” invites you to something, you do it. 2) I love Jacksonville and want to experience it in as many ways as possible—and the more unusual, the better. 3) How many people in town can say they slept in a teepee in the middle of Hemming Plaza? Only two I know of. 4) Why not?
Did you sleep there alone?
No. My pal Laura Evans did it because she thought would be an interesting story to tell her grandkids one day. We shared the teepee with about several framed prints of Native American chiefs (complete with uplighting) and my kitty slippers.
Weren’t you scared of being harassed/attacked/robbed/killed?
Not really (but judging from the “good luck” and “congratulations on surviving” messages I got, some of you were scared for me). Since it was the night before One Spark opened, there were creators working on their booths and volunteers wandering about and security patrolling the area all night. In the event of a break-in, we did have protection, namely, a saw, a fire extinguisher and Gumbo the watchdog. And newsflash: Downtown is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city.
If I’m being totally honest, however, I was concerned about the rats who hang out in the park, a fact I learned from a police officer several hours before bedtime. I eventually saw one scurry across the park and into some shrubs, but none came in the teepee. Had that happened, I would’ve busted out of that sailcloth teepee like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall. Oh, yeah!
What did you sleep on? Did you have a sleeping bag?
Negative on the sleeping bag (do I look like the kind of person who goes camping?). Instead, I slept on a queen-size air mattress that I borrowed from a Facebook “friend”—or, more appropriately, a “virtual stranger”—with a comforter and afghan (a blanket, not someone from Afghanistan). It was quite cozy actually. Laura slept on an air mattress too.
Did you actually get any sleep?
Once we figured out how to turn off the chandelier (ever the class-act, Wayne does not roll with propane lanterns), locked the door (an elaborate series of string, wood and ties … ancient Native American secret, huh?!?) and enjoyed some Intuition Aleworks brews, we hit the sack. Shortly after, some folks peeked through the door and were startled to see us inside. We invited them in and they took pictures.
Getting to sleep was a challenge what with creators hammering and hammering and hammering long into the night (Dear Pratt Guys: You owe us a beer) and lots of folks chit chatting on the plaza (teepees aren’t exactly sound-proof, you know). I seem to recall hearing fireworks at one point. Then there was beeping of the street crossing signals every four seconds.
And that, my friends, is what Ambien is for.
Any other burning questions (which reminds me, it’s not easy getting the stench of a campfire out of your hair), post them in the comments section.