Labor Day weekend has easily become one of my favorite weekends of the year. Why, you ask? Well because it’s the weekend of Dragon Con. In case you’ve never heard of Dragon Con, it’s the largest, multi-media, pop culture convention in the universe. I didn’t even make that up either, it says so on their website. That may sound like it’s overstating the size of the convention but I don’t think it is. Dragon Con is the only con I have ever attended that spans across five hotels that has programming for four days straight, I mean that quite literally. There is always something to do no matter what time it is. That’s what really separates Dragon Con from the rest. For more info about what Dragon Con is check out my interview with Director of Media Relations Dan Carroll.
This was my third year at Dragon Con. You can read what about my first and second years on the GWW. I can say without a doubt that year three was by far the most fun I have had and I think next year can be even better. There were quite a few things that made this Dragon Con a bit different than my past years. The first, being that as a third year reporter I was not eligible for the new reporter’s walk through. However, all hope was not lost. I was still able to participate in the reporter’s pub crawl the Wednesday before the convention commenced. I must admit, before the crawl I was not in a very good mood. As a result, I really didn’t feel like being social. That said, as soon as I saw a few familiar faces I immediately snapped out of it. It was nice to catch up with people that I had not seen since last year’s convention. I talked with Trey, from Daddy Mojo, about how he recently started a podcast and all that goes along with it. A lot of “inside baseball” about how to host and market, things only a podcast geek would love. I, of course, talked with Dan Carroll about some of the changes we were going to see during the tour, and a host of other people.
While most of the things about Dragon Con remained the same there were a few changes that we talked about on the tour. Comic artist alley and the gaming track both had been moved to America’s Mart and a few other things that I was glad to know before the start of the convention. The best part of the pub crawl is always going to be the people. I met two of the employees from the 2016 charity, Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency (ACSS). ACSS is an excellent organization that helps give Atlanta’s homeless population the tools to get back into the workforce. After we completed our walkthrough we ended the night at the Pulse Bar in the Marriott Marquis. The hotel was already packed with Dragon Con attendees—some already sporting their best cosplay. It was at this moment when I realized it was going to be another fantastic convention. After a few beers with the other pub crawlers I called it a night.
I’ll post another article that delves deep into the shenanigans of the weekend but for now, let’s jump ahead in my Dragon Con story to the annual parade. The Dragon Con parade is the one time of year I take hundreds of pictures in a matter of minutes. Late last year I bought a new Canon Rebel T5 specifically for this event and I couldn’t be happier that I did. I felt like I was able to still enjoy the parade while taking pictures. Just like in years past, reporters were given a spot at the intersection next to the Hyatt. Every year I cover the parade I sound like I’m playing Call of Duty when I’m trying to get a good position for pictures and not invade other people’s personal space. “On your left,” “right behind you,” “kneeling in front of you,” “I’m too damn old to take a knee for that long.” Ok, the last one is just complaining but I think I got my point across.
The streets were packed with families trying to get a spot to see the amazing cosplay and even a few celebrities sprinkled in. I want to make sure to mention that the Dragon Con parade is the only event that does not require a badge, making it free for anyone who wishes to attend.
This was the very first year that the Dragon Con parade was televised in the Atlanta area. It was broadcast on the local CW affiliate and I think that was a great idea. I really couldn’t believe it hadn’t happened sooner. The main difference I noticed from previous years was the breaks in the parade that coincided with TV commercials. It was great for me so I could take a break and find a better position before the next wave of participants. I’m not sure how the breaks were for people that didn’t know why it was happening. Make sure to listen to my interview with Jan Price to get background on how the parade is organized.
The fact that the parade is televised now doesn’t change that I plan on attending for years to come. There is nothing like seeing it in person. The way kids react to their favorite characters will always put a smile on my face and I will always see something that I’ve never seen before. I have a true appreciation for the creativity and dedication shown by the parade participants. Atlanta is not called Hotlanta for nothing! The temperatures over Labor Day weekend are usually in the upper 80’s if not higher. Anyone in the parade knows what they are getting themselves into and they all seem to have a great time despite the excessive heat. Being allowed to take and post my pictures is a privilege I’m honored to have. Speaking of pictures…here they are. Enjoy!
Keep it locked to thegww.com for my next Dragon Con piece.