Also present at the event: a mother duck working to achieve a milestone of her own, by hatching a family of ducklings. According to the local SAS staff, the ducklings are due in just over a week's time. (They used PROC FORECAST to predict the date, I think.)
The staff here are protective of the duck and her shell-covered family. They have posted signs around her nest and fashioned a 3-walled crate to keep her safe.
The same thing happened last year at this event -- except that the ducks were further along and hatched during the conference. With over 200 people present, it wasn't safe to allow the mother duck to do what comes naturally by leading the ducklings to wherever ducklings must be led. So the staff acted as a surrogate nanny, gathering the ducklings to a safer part of the grounds, and allowing the mother to follow -- right through the inside of the building, mind you -- and then meet up with her chicks. Mama Duck took over from there, and all was well. And the SAS staff and customers who witnessed it had something to talk about. And of course they still talk about it.
Today, no ducklings hatched, but there were dozens of newly certified SAS programmers who have cracked through one more shell, allowing them to grow professionally and socially along with their new-found colleagues and friends in the SAS Professionals community.