What is a ping? Internet users might explain that it's a sort of electonic touch between servers to see what the response time is and if a server is even responding. Coronation Street fans know better. In Corrie world, a "ping" is a get together of coronation Street fans, be it 2 or 200. This term was an accident. In the IRC Corrie chat room in the mid 90s, chatters served up cyber-pints to each other. "Ping" was a mis-type of "pint" and a get together was then termed a "pingfest" instead of a "pintfest" since, of course, any get together of Corrie fans *had* to involve a pub and a pint or two! "Pingfest" is usually shortened to Ping, and can be a noun, or a verb, as in, "are we pinging this weekend?"
A few people from that first chat room decided to get together in the Toronto area and had the very first "pingfest" to meet each other face to face, talk about the show and get to know each other better. It caught on. Here in Halifax, the first ping was held at the end of June, 1996 (I think, or was it 95?) A local man gleaned some email addresses from people that he knew were in the Maritimes area and organized a ping in a local pub. About 25 people came for it and I was one of them.
I was a bit nervous. I didn't know any of these people, had only seen a few names on the Usenet discussion group. I don't think i was online in the chat room at that time either. But it was in public and if it turned out to be crap, i could leave, so i went and have since become quite good mates with a few of those people.
The organizer went on to set up pings several times a year in the area and they have grown from that small group to regular crowds of anywhere from 60 to 150, depending on time of year and venue. It's not easy to get a venu that holds that many people but we do try for larger pubs or restaurants with video and sound capabilities. We have a trivia quiz, we usually play another game, and have a talk about the show. We sometimes show video, as well. If someone has been on the World of Coronation Street tour, they'll tell the group about it.
The organizer also worked very hard and made his dream come true. He managed to sort out an event that featured an actor from the show to come visit here in Halifax for a question and answer evening, with photos and autographs for a limited number of people. Two events and a financial loss created a non-profit society, the Downeast Streeters, a committee who pulled together to put on the event, put out advertising and since then, have brought three more actors to town. They have made a profit but that just goes back into the kitty for the next event.
In addition to selling tickets, each ping costs every attendee $2.00 and they sell tickets on raffle prizes as well. I joined the committee last year as secretary and though we didn't host an event this year, we're always looking at ways to try to bring it back. In any case, the committee also organizes the 3 times yearly pings.
Our pings are a little different than the original concept which was more a smaller group of people off the net or chat room that all knew each other and got together on a casual basis for a pint and a chat and they tend to last from late afternoon sometimes to closing time! Ours here are more formal, lasting just a couple of hours from lunchtime to mid afternoon, with games and prizes and the crowd numbers are usually such that they aren't very intimate. You see many of the same faces each time though and you do get to know them. I tend to do a talk to the crowd and sometimes do a quiz or game so my face and name are known. I often have people say hello to me in public places. I have often no idea who they are but further conversation reveals that they know me from the pings. I've even had someone approach me on a plane once! No where to escape! I was relieved to find out she was a pinger and not a nutcase! ;)
Back in 2000, a large group of my internet chat room friends decided that we would all meet up in Manchester. For a week, about 18 of us did day trips in the area and on the weekend, the numbers more than doubled. One local lady hosted a backyard barbeque and she was also instrumental in getting the whole group access to the Granada outdoor Corrie set which was like the Holy Ground for most of us! That night we had a dinner and dance for the main ping and brunch the next morning before most people went their own ways. That whole week was one long ping and it was a blast! There were three local members of our group who did all the local organizing, sorting out places we could visit and mini bus rentals that we all chipped in for. Evenings consisted of a theatre night, a Chinese meal out, a curry night out, plus plenty of pub time and casual shopping and lounging in the hotel bar for the ones staying in the same place. The travelogue his here with links to photos.
Since then, i've pinged in Manchester, London and Dublin and in Canada i have pinged from Newfoundland to Victoria in various cities. I've also visited and stayed with good friends that i've met and grown to know well and am even engaged to a man i met in the Corrie chat room and one of the women that attended the first Halifax ping may even be the one to marry us! Coronation Street has definitely changed my life!
Coronation Street (on the internet) and pinging have brought so many friends into my life, some of them quite close ones, too. It's given me travel opportunities and when i do travel, whether for personal or business, i will most often be able to let local internet corrie fans know and have people to meet up with for a meal and a chat.