By Nick Nahas
Jessica Edler and her husband, Sean were playing baseball with their son at the park when they noticed people in interesting garb playing with foam swords and shields. The family’s curiosity took over. They introduced themselves to the group, and later found themselves joining them the next Sunday.
Amtgard is a Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) community focusing on medieval and fantasy sports and recreation with chapters all over the world, according to Edler. “It’s a lot of fun, when you think of it as your inner-kid going out there with a foam sword and playing,” she said. “It’s just something different to do to stay active, and I’m an artist and photographer, so it’s another outlet to be creative.”
The Barony of Falling Fire, in the Kingdom of Neverwinter has been meeting every Sunday at 1 p.m. at Tony and Bertha Saladino Park since 1995. Activities include combat with foam swords and shields for those 14 and older, and arts and crafts. Others just come to hang out and socialize with the group, as well as referee the action.
Players are encouraged to expand their role within the group, and apply for office. Edler, also known as Lady Jae, is currently Regent of the chapter. “We welcome everybody,” she said.
Every player at the park has a persona that they portray. They choose in-game names and wear original garb that they make on their own. Each person has a varying sigil (usually an animal), and colors specifically chosen for the character that they are depicting.
Besides the social aspect, the group also raises money for a local charity like a food drive for ECHO of Brandon (Emergency Care Help Organization) in September raising just over $400.
According to former King Kelbo, Anthony Malangone, groups around the country compete to see how much money each can raise for their charity. For more information visit www.amtgard.com.