The most popular event of Dragon Con weekend has to be the parade and a large number of the attendees aren’t even Dragon Con members. Due to the parade’s popularity, it’s difficult to get a good spot unless you have a hotel room with a balcony, overlooking the parade route, or in my case, a press pass. My parade experience this year was much different from 2014 because I made the bold decision to have my family attend with me. The media relations team allows children to sit in front of the barricade where the media stands as a way to keep the press from being too aggressive when trying to get good picture angles. I guess they figured that even the most self-serving individuals wouldn’t trample kids for the sake of a good photo-op. I really didn’t know how things would go with my now 9-year-old son (his birthday was the week after Dragon Con) and my 3-year-old daughter but luckily my wife was there to help out with them while I captured some of the action.
While waiting near the media area I ran into Trey Burley of Daddy Mojo. I met Trey during the Media Crawl last year and we have kept in touch via Facebook. He was nice enough to snap a pic of me and my family to commemorate their first Dragon Con parade. The moment Dan Carroll announced that the parade was nearing the press area; the reporters swarmed the intersection to try to get a good spot. It was then that I realized I forgot to bring a stool. Yes, you read that right. I started out toward the back of the crowd and I’m short—what can I say? Although I could have kicked myself, I remembered from the previous year’s parade that a number of the reporters from bigger outlets would get however many pictures or videos they deemed enough and leave, so I knew my time in the back would be short-lived. I put my kids in front of the barricade and proceeded to get the best position I could.
The beginning of the parade was pretty tough to capture because of my location. There was a reporter directly in front of me that had cumbersome equipment. The best way to describe it is to say he was like the media form of the Iron Spider. He had a camera over one shoulder and a fancy apparatus on his other shoulder that held his external flash unit. I had talked to the guy before and he was really nice but his equipment was not conducive to being packed in a small area with other people trying to take pictures as well. He made it difficult for everyone that was behind him to get good pictures. On top of trying to maneuver around him, I had to deal with my daughter who would cry as soon as I was out for her sight, not to mention when someone walked by in a dinosaur suit. She was not at all amused. I ended up taking her back to my wife who was standing in an open section behind the press.
There isn’t much I can say about the Dragon Con parade that hasn’t already been said. The cosplay is amazing and there are characters from all forms of media. As the media crowd thinned I was able to get a great spot and as a result, I was able to take some unobstructed action shots. I took most of the pictures from my knees which my body did not agree with but I did what I had to do. I was even able to get my daughter a spot right in front of me so she could take in some of the sights again.
Each press member is allowed to walk the against the parade traffic for block to get up close images of the parade participants. I really enjoyed the five minutes that I got to walk down the parade. I was fortunate enough to observe a man who I believe was an Orc. Part of his routine was to run at full speed then slide on knee pads and make sparks on the ground with pieces of metal he had attached to his gloves. It was awesome and he scared the bejesus out of the media relations volunteer that I was walking with.
I give full credit to all the people who choose to participate in the parade. They walk for miles and some do it in very hot and/or heavy costumes. They were all great about posing for pics if we asked and they did a great job entertaining the kids in the crowd. At one point in the parade someone walked past in cosplay of a character that I wasn’t familiar with but two teenage girls on the opposite side of the street clearly recognized him because they absolutely lost it. The cosplayer noticed their outburst and went to the other side of the street to make sure to get a picture with the girls. I’m sure that made their weekend and that’s what it’s all about, making people happy or scaring the shit out of them, as was the case with the Orc. No matter your interest, there is sure to be a parade participant that catches your attention. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love the Hip-Hop Storm Trooper?
Covering the parade is a lot of work but it’s a must see for all Dragon Con attendees and people who live in the metro Atlanta area. Having my family join me this year definitely made the experience more challenging but I loved being able to introduce my wife and kids to the movies/video games/TV shows that I have enjoyed for the majority of my life. I’m pretty sure I appreciated the parade more than my kids but that was to be expected since they had never been exposed to some of the characters that were being portrayed. All in all, it is safe to say that the Dragon Con parade will continue to be a part of my family’s Labor Day weekend activities for years to come. I just hope I remember a stool next year and that and my daughter becomes cool with dinosaurs.
Enjoy the pictures and stayed tuned for my next piece about all the fun I had with the rest of the ETMF crew.