If you’ve been spending time in downtown Atlanta this weekend, you might have seen a Jedi riding a Bird scooter or Black Panther crossing the street. That’s because Dragon Con — an annual multi-genre cosplay convention — took place over Labor Day weekend.
An estimated 80,000 people descended upon Atlanta for the convention, Dragon Con media relations said Monday. People came from all over the country and other parts of the world including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries, media relations said. Last year, the convention boasted a record attendance of more than 80,000.
Dragon Con festivities began Thursday and are set to end Monday. Here’s a recap of this year’s festival.
Dragon Con attendees love cosplay. It’s one of the highlights of the convention every year.
Some attendees dressed up in inflatable T-rex costumes, and others chose Disney characters. Deadpool costumes and mashups were popular again this year, and there were plenty of superheroes, “Star Wars” characters and some steampunk-styled outfits.
Attendee Steven Senior walked around the convention with a toolkit and was prepared to help any cosplayer with a wardrobe malfunction.
On one level of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis some cosplayers stood waiting to be photographed.
“We’re mostly big into the cosplay scene here,” said attendee Sara Servin, who was with attendee Loki Woltanski. The two, who were dressed as characters from “The Greatest Showman,” enjoy going to photo meetups.
“I think the big Disney (photo meetup) was great,” Servin said, “’cause, it’s like hundreds of people” that gathered on the steps of the Hilton Atlanta.
The annual Dragon Con Parade took place in downtown Atlanta Saturday. Crowds came early and lined the streets to see cosplayers pass them by.
Some celebrity guests made appearances and glided through the parade in red cars.
Captain America drove a motorcycle, a life-sized R2-D2 rolled down the street and spectators were visited by the citizens of Wakanda.
Before Dragon Con began, media relations said that they were expecting more than 400 guests from film, comics and literature to appear at the convention. Some made appearances at Saturday’s parade, and others signed autographs at the Walk of Fame and sat on panels.
WABE had the opportunity to sit down in news-conference style interview with Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street.” Next year, “Sesame Street” will celebrate its 50th birthday.
Spinney said he enjoys coming to events like Dragon Con. He started playing Big Bird in 1969, and back then, he said no one wanted to know the man behind the puppet. His wife, Debra Spinney, was at the news conference with him. She said that at events like these, “you are meeting your truest fans.”
Spinney said his favorite character has been Big Bird and not Oscar the Grouch. He added that even though Oscar is a prude, he often brought out the sweetness in other people.
Excited to attend #DragonCon, where I fangirled over @feliciaday (star of Supernatural & Buffy, 2 of my favorite shows), met @tarastrong (if you don’t know her, you’ve definitely heard her voice) & some amazing cosplayers. To everyone in attendance, be safe and have a lot of fun! pic.twitter.com/LSo2kiZOVH
Another famous attendee made an appearance too. Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came to Dragon Con and mingled with guests and cosplayers, according to her Twitter posts.
Fan Tracks, Other Events
Dragon Con has fan tracks for almost every interest. There’s gaming, art puppetry, robotics, fantasy and more.
Attendees Severin and Woltanski also said they went to the “Night at the Georgia Aquarium,” which took place on Saturday. The event offered refreshments and and an aquarium experience.
“They also had a costume contest there, so, maybe next year, it would be cool to do that,” Servin said.
On Friday, attendees Chelsea Manners and Kylan Race attended “Back-Alley Beatdowns,” which was part of the Anime/Manga Track. According to the information on the Dragon Con app, the event analyzes the best fights in amine.
“It’s their fourth year doing it, and I love it, ” Race said. “It’s basically going over fights and anime and just nerdy shows that were just like a beat down. One guy was just destroying the other guy. And it was just really funny. It was very entertaining.”
“It had some great moderators in that one,” Manners added.
According to the Dragon Con app, some of the panelists were from Slander ENT, which is a group of media reviewers, according to its Twitter account.
Other events included the Comic and Pop Artists Alley, where more than 200 painters, illustrators, writers and sculptures were expected to converge, according to the Dragon Con website.
Attendees also visited Dragon Con’s vendors to possibly purchase souvenirs.
Update: This report has been updated with new information from Dragon Con media relations.