Labor Day weekend is upon us once again. For many passionate fans, Labor Day weekend means that it’s the time of year for one of Atlanta’s greatest events, Dragon Con. Located in 5 downtown hotels, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta and Westin Peachtree Plaza. Dragon Con brings together actors, writers, comic book artists, singers, dancers and cos-players to celebrate all things pop culture related. They are expecting a record crowd of over 65,000 attendees for this year’s event.
What makes Dragon Con unique from other cons including Comic-Con, is that Dragon Con isn’t located in just one convention center, it’s spread out over five hotels. This means that the streets of downtown Atlanta will be filled with interesting people wearing elaborate costumes, some of which have been worked on all year just for this event. There are a number of costume contests, some of which have themes like “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.”
While you do need a pass to get into the Con, you can watch the famous Dragon Con parade on Saturday morning for free. You will see just about every cartoon, anime and superhero character, along with a variety of other delightful cos-players in the procession. The highlight of the parade is the legion of “Star Wars” Stormtroopers that finish the parade. The Parade is on a different route this year with the festivities starting at 10 am. Check the Dragon Con website for details of the parade route. Be sure to get to the parade site early, as the sidewalks along the parade route fill up quickly and taking Marta to the parade is highly suggested.
The Walk of Fame, located at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, is where you can get autographs from actors like Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”), Peter Mayhew (“Star Wars”), Felicia Day (“Supernatural”, and the CW’s own John Barrowman (“Arrow”) , David Ramsey (“Arrow”), and Stephen Amell (“Arrow’).
And, at this year’s Dragon Con, Sesame Street meets Peachtree. Famed puppeteer Carroll Spinney, who recently retired after 45 years performing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch will appear along with the puppeteers behind other Sesame Street favorites including Abby Cadabby and Grundgetta. (While the puppeteers will be on hand, the characters will not.) Cheryl Henson, daughter of the late Jim Henson and president of the Jim Henson Foundation, will also join us for Dragon Con.
The Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.
There are a number of panels throughout the weekend. Some are located in enormous halls while others occupy smaller conference rooms. You can find panels on just about everything you can imagine covering the gambit of fandom; from your favorite current and past Sci-Fi shows, such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Game of Thrones” and CW’s own “Arrow,” “The 100,” “Supernatural,” “iZombie,” and “Flash.”
If art is your thing, then you will want to go to the Comic and Pop Art Alley. You can talk to and buy work from comic book writers, artists, and publishers. A number of panels and how-to-workshops are held throughout the con. There are also a bunch of live performances including the “Dragon Con Burlesque: A Glamour Geek Revue” and “The Late Night Puppet Slam.” There are bands of just about every genre, including jazz, punk, rock and folk.
Dragon Con, Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy, sci-fi and gaming convention, takes over The Georgia Aquarium on Saturday night, September 5 for a cos play competition and party hosted by leading cosplayer Yaya Han. New this year, The Chôsen cosplay competition will feature 20 of the top costumes at Dragon Con, selected during a pre-judging session. Han and co-host Marc Lee will emcee, along with a panel of celebrity judges including Heroes of Cosplay’s Monika Lee, Catherine Lee Lewis of God Save the Queen Fashions, and Lee “Fev” Camara of Fev Studios. Competition winners will share in over $1,500 in prizes, with the top prize including a four-night stay at a host hotel for the 30th annual Dragon Con in 2016. Afterwards, Han will stick around to greet fans, take photographs and make autographs available. For additional details or to purchase tickets, please visit the Georgia Aquarium site at http://www.georgiaaquarium.org
Earlier this year, Dragon Con selected the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market as its official charity for 2015. Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization. In 2014, the convention raised over $115,000 for its official charity, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and collected 535 pounds of food. Through the Superheroes community service program, Dragon Con fans contributed more than 900 hours of community service. Dragon Con also conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation. Last year’s annual Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive attracted a record turnout, with 2,972 attendees donating more than 6,000 units of blood and blood products, benefiting LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast
Be sure to catch the “Arrow” panels with Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), John Barrowman(Malcolm Merlyn), David Ramsey (John Diggle), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), “The Flash” panels with Candice Patton (Iris West) and Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow), and “The 100” panels with Eliza Taylor (Clarke Griffin), Richard Harmon (John Murphy) and Bobby Morley (Bellamy Blake).
Look for me at the con and be sure to come back to the ATLCW.TV website as I will be posting pictures all weekend. Also, look for the CW Crew out and about Dragon Con on Sunday.