Supernatural fans have long made pilgrimages to Vancouver, where the show is filmed – but there’s another city that’s also a sort of Mecca for the SPNFamily. That city is Austin, Texas, where Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles make their home. Padalecki owns the San Jac Saloon in the heart of the city and Ackles and family own the Family Business Beer Company, a brewery in nearby Dripping Springs. That gives fans two destinations in which to congregate – and this past weekend, they had a good reason to brave the Texas summer heat.
Longtime Supernatural fans Sandra and Tonia created Paws 4 AKF (@Paws4AKF), a charity fundraiser to benefit Austin Pets Alive (which Jared and Jensen have supported) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (the other charity selected by Jared Padalecki for this fundraiser). The event was held on June 23 at the San Jac Saloon, which attracted Supernatural fans from all over the country to Austin. About 50 fans gathered in ‘Jack’s Place,’ as the upstairs room of the bar is known, to do some good in the world and to enjoy each other’s company. There was a silent auction with plenty of donated items – I brought some signed copies of Family Don’t End With Blood to donate – as well as games, a photo op area with props, a Twister board, and a very popular karaoke mic.
I’m a passionate dog lover (almost as passionate as I am about Supernatural), so I was excited to be helping Austin Pets Alive. Volunteers Channing, Ashley, and Kristin spoke with us about the organization. They explained that Austin is the largest no-kill city in the country, and their facility rescues animals who have been abandoned or who are facing euthanasia at other facilities (outside of Austin). For example, they rescued thousands of animals in the wake of last year’s hurricane and subsequent flooding in Houston. All the animals they take in are given medical treatment if needed, and all the animals go through behavior training before being placed up for adoption or in foster care. Austin Pets Alive is largely a staff of volunteers. To learn more about their organization and help them keep doing their important work, please visit their website at https://www.austinpetsalive.org/
Jack’s Place was perfect for a casual gathering, with comfy couches and armchairs scattered throughout. It was a last minute decision for many of us to make the trek to Austin, so the evening was full of “OMG I didn’t know you were gonna be here” exclamations and lots of enthusiastic hugging as fans ran into old friends or people they knew online and hadn’t yet met in person. Bartender and manager Matt McDonald and his staff kept the drinks flowing and even joined in for some karaoke (after much cajoling from patrons).
In addition to the charity event, the mayor of Austin, Mayor Steve Adler, had agreed to attend – and in appreciation of Ackles and Padalecki’s good citizenship and support of the city, was set to proclaim it “Supernatural Day.” I had arranged a chat with the Mayor, so we had a chance to talk for a few minutes while we waited for the other special guests to arrive so he could kick off the evening’s festivities. Most fans had no idea that Jensen and Danneel Ackles and Jared and Genevieve Padalecki were also attending, so when they appeared at the door there was more than one OMG from the crowd and possibly a few people struck speechless. Understandably.
The Mayor read the Proclamation that declared it Supernatural Day, all smiles and clearly proud of his city and its two prominent citizens. “This is a cultural city, it’s culturally creative to our core,” the Mayor said. “So to have these two guys here, in a 14th season, about to do a 300th episode, is so much of what this city is about. So we wanted to celebrate with you.”
As Mayor Adler proclaimed June 23 as Supernatural Day, Jared turned around to where Jensen was standing a few feet behind him and reached back while Jensen reached forward so they could fist bump in celebration, both all smiles – as was the entire room. Then Jared took the mic and thanked the Mayor and the fans.
Jared: It’s a wonderful strangely flattering experience to come here and see people I’ve seen all over the world – like oh hey, hey! – I speak for both of us when I say we feel so supported, and I’m really grateful for you guys and that we’re raising money for these great causes. We’re humbled and thrilled, and I’m sweating because it’s 100 degrees in here – who owns this place?!”
The crowd laughed as Jared went on to say what a wonderful honor it was to have the Mayor there to celebrate, and then he addressed the fans.
Jared: This is on you guys. This is because of the SPNFamily. We [Jared and Jensen] wear makeup for a living – we’re gonna wear makeup again two weeks from today
He paused, and looked over to Jensen. “Is it two weeks?”
Jared again expressed his appreciation to Mayor Adler, who had come to the event even though he was on “grandparent duty” that night.
Jensen then took the mic, thanking the Mayor not only for being there, but for also being a part of such a cool city.
Jensen: We truly do love calling this city home, and we’re proud that you’re a part of this with us. And thank you guys [the fans].
He then turned to Jared, and gestured to his friend.
Jensen: And thank you.
Jared cocked his head as if to say, for what?
Jensen: Thank you for this journey that we’ve been on.
Jared nodded, clasping Jensen’s hand and then giving him a slap on the chest to express the emotion of the moment.
Jensen: Here we are, in some random bar, some random city, hanging out with some random guy (points to the Mayor)…
Everyone was laughing, including the Mayor.
Jensen: It’s all pretty awesome, so thank you [to Jared] for being a part of this with me. Now let’s take some pictures!
He then went into Director!Jensen mode, getting people into position and making sure that photographer Kim Prior had all the shots she needed before moving to the next configuration.
After the requisite posed shots, Jared insisted that we get a photo of the entire group, so we all jammed in together for a few photos. It’s not every celebrity who wants a picture with every fan in the room, but anyone who knows Jared probably wasn’t surprised. Afterwards, the Supernatural actors and their wives stayed to chat with fans and with the volunteers from Austin Pets Alive. It was a small enough group that the foursome felt comfortable enough to mingle, as did the Mayor.
In fact, I’m fairly certain they took a photo with every single fan who asked for one, stopping to chat a bit with anyone who had something to say. At one point, a fan was feeling a bit overcome by the excitement of Jared and Jensen being there and by too many people crowded around them, and they made sure to seek her out for a photo in a quieter section of the room. Jared and Jensen both purchased some Austin Pets Alive merch that Danneel and Gen proudly wore and donated in the donations jar as well.
Gen and Danneel also mingled with the crowd, taking selfies and chatting with fans. They introduced me to two guys from the Supernatural crew who were also there (Tyler later belted out some amazing karaoke). I chatted with Jensen about the beer I’d tried at his brewery the day before (the Summer Spree, for those who might be interested – a delicious seasonal beer with a watermelon twist) and to get some food recommendations for my return trip to the Family Business Beer Company (the shrimp po boy, which by the way was FABULOUS).
Before they left, the foursome posed for a selfie with organizer Sandra, with Jensen once again trying to direct while Jared took the picture and all of them ending up laughing together. It was a fun and candid moment, seeing the four of them enjoy each other’s company and be so comfortable among their fans. Jensen stole a pair of shark glasses for his daughter JJ from the photo op table – if you can really call it ‘stealing’ when he loudly announced that he was doing just that.
Near the end of the evening, Jared climbed up on a table to once again thank everyone for coming and for the good work that the fandom does, clearly touched and grateful. There were goodbye hugs, and then the Ackles and Padaleckis headed out and Mayor Adler headed home to be with his grandchildren.
The room full of very happy fans gathered around the mic for a giant group karaoke rendition of ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and had a few more drinks – then we walked back to our hotel down 6th Street, blocked off to traffic and full of joyous revelers at midnight. It was like a mini Bourbon Street, and the perfect way to cap off a wonderful night. One that made us proud to be Supernatural fans!
Filming starts July 10, according to Jared and Jensen – stay tuned for my Comic Con coverage and then my weekly episode reviews of Season 14!