Block Party

Block Party

Lego enthusiasts flock to Brick Fest 2005 in Arlington

<bt>Traveling through the Springfield Interchange, Tony Perez looked at the beams and concrete as a Lego challenge. After collecting Legos for 20 years, the Springfield resident knows that constructing anything with the plastic building blocks is possible.

“I thought about building that. That’s massive.” Perez said. “You get to looking at everything in Legos.”

Everything was Legos at the BrickFest Lego Convention 2005 at George Mason University's Arlington campus, where Lego fans of all ages flocked to the public expo on Sunday, Aug. 14, to celebrate Lego's 50th anniversary. Perez, a volunteer at the conference, said it was possible “to do the Interchange in micro,” referring to a scale category at the convention.

Sunday was the final day of the three-day convention that featured over 40 workshops, contests, games and awards for Lego enthusiasts. The rooms were filled with table after table of Lego creations, ranging from alpine villages and futuristic cities, to the Japanese Imperial Navy cruiser “Tokao.”

Christina Hitchcock, event coordinator, called Lego construction “all about problem solving.” Hitchcock was delighted to see the children building things and thinking about the possibilities rather than playing computer games.

“It’s more thought provoking,” she said.

Jarrett Phillips, an Emmanuel Christian School student from Springfield, practices his architectural aspirations with Legos. Jarrett liked the Japanese cruiser the best.

Becoming an architect is “what he’s wanted to be for several years now,” said Jarrett’s father Brian Phillips, who admitted having more fun than he thought.

Annandale resident Lorrie Bejjani made a family outing of it. Her children love Legos and she encourages their creativity. “I’d rather they do that than sit in front of the TV any day,” she said.

THE BRICKFEST EXPO occupied all three floors in the GMU building. Displays included the castle, sculpture and mosaics, National Trust Buildings, freestyle, science fiction and the Great Ball Contraption. Corporate Lego executives from the headquarters in Enfield, Conn. were available as well as some of the Lego architects themselves.

New Jersey resident Lindsay Braun logged 400 hours building the Takao cruiser in a 300 square-foot apartment. At one point, he didn’t like the center portion on the ship, so he took it apart and started over on that section. He admitted that it takes more than just concentration. “If you have borderline obsessive compulsive tendencies, this is your hobby,” he said.

Steve DeCraemer, a Washington, D.C. resident, built a city with some local buildings, including the Washington Cathedral. It was all without the help of drawings.

“It’s pretty much all in my head,” DeCraemer said.

Corporate Lego representative Jen Dziekan said the goal of the event “is to have a good time, to build, to create, to learn. The possibilities are endless.”

Dziekan laid down the Lego law: “The only rule is they have to be Lego bricks.”

In addition to being an expo, showcasing design and ingenuity of the builders, the convention included marketing. Legos were for sale in one portion of the building.

“Lego is a worldwide company,” Dziekan said.

Avram Kaufman made the trip from New York City, armed with an idea involving technology, but he did not go into too much detail. He was hoping to make corporate connections, or at least find someone who would listen. Although he would not be specific, his idea was a "basis for a whole new building experience. There’s room for new ways to get kids involved in building.”