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People’s District: Story of The Week
February 17, 2011 | 12:30PM

A prerson. A photo. A story.

This week: Andrew aka Padre Caedes on Live Action Role Play

“When I was nine years old, I met a man named Maggot at the Renaissance Festival. He was pulling a rickshaw and started telling me about Darkon. I was a kid, and thought it was so cool that there was a place where you could dress up, have weapons, and beat the shit out of people. I really wanted to join, but I was too young, as you have to be 16.

“I forgot about Darkon until I turned 17. I ended up running into Maggot again, and he invited me to my first event at Millersville Elementary School in July 2004. I showed up in costume, and someone dressed me up in face paint. I ran around for hours beating people up and breaking stuff. It was awesome.

“When people ask me about live action role play, I describe it as football…with weapons. This is a place where you can come and beat the shit out of your friends with foam, and then sit down and have a beer together. I spend my Monday through Saturday working at Best Buy and going to college, this is a release for me. I love coming out here with my friends, and taking out my aggression.

“Out here I am known as Caedes, or Padre Caedes, as my character is a priest. In the game, we take on characters and organize into countries who battle over land and resources. Our country, Ched Nasad, is like a big ass family. We are all really good friends outside of this and hang out and play games and stuff. Sometimes, I feel like these guys are more my family than my actual family.

“The story I like to tell about that is one day, on my way to a Darkon event back in 2006, me and my friend Caitlin were driving on 95 when we got hit. The jeep flipped across four lanes of traffic and we ended up in the shoulder. My left hand went out of the sunroof, my right knee went out of the window, and I couldn’t feel my legs. She was fine, but they loaded me into a helicopter, and flew me to Bethesda Shock Trauma.

“As soon as my friends from Ched Nasad heard it, they took our surcoat, which is the garment with our crest, and planted it in the ground with a note that they were going to find us. They didn’t know where we were, so they went to every hospital. They found me an hour later. They found me before my Mom did. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever experienced. That is love, man. We really do love each other out here.

“Some people will look at us and say that we are weird or this is strange and shit. Dude, I grew up in a Renaissance Society, as my Mom used to run a food booth there. So, to me, this isn’t weird at all. Sometimes, I think that we are more normal than most of society.”

Darkon is a full-contact medieval fantasy wargaming group, active in the Baltimore/Washington area since 1985. Every other Sunday, between 150 and 300 members gather in costume and armor to fight unchoreographed mock battles with padded weaponry. See more images from Darkon here.

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“Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. Every Thursday he’ll share a favorite story with us”

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