Dragon*Con is a convention held every Labor Day weekend in downtown Atlanta. It’s a very inclusive convention that covers everything from science fiction to comic books to fantasy to anime. This year it celebrated its 25th Anniversary. It was my fourth year attending and it surely wasn’t my last. Here are my top ten favorite moments from this year.
10) Donating Blood
OK, so donating blood doesn’t sound like it would be fun, let alone a favorite moment. However, several factors go into making this true. First of all, I have a great group of friends. Since I’ve made it my mission to donate every year at the con, my friends have made it their mission to support me. In fact, they do such a great job of cheering me on that when I donate blood at home I wonder why no one is applauding me or doing the wave from the waiting area chairs. Oh yes, my friends do this every year.
The vampires take extra good care of donors. They make sure you’re comfortable and usually have a great sense of humor. Every time I donate I’m surprised at how fast the time flies. On top of that every donor gets an exclusive Dragon*Con blood donor t-shirt. The design is different each year and I’ve yet to be disappointed. This year it was a special 25th Anniversary design. I love it.
Here are some helpful hints for future blood donors: I try to donate on Thursday because it’s usually quicker. Also if my hemoglobin is low I have a chance to try again. Eat raisins! It works for me. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and eating full meals.
I go to conventions to take a break from my real life and it makes me feel better knowing I’m doing something that helps others when I donate. In essence blood donors are sort of like super heroes. We save lives. How cool is that?
If you’ve never been to Dragon*Con I’m not sure I can even describe the free entertainment walking around. I’ve been to other conventions (one that’s even bigger) and I just haven’t found any place that compares to the people watching at this event. Las Vegas and New York have nothing on Dragon*Con. I always take time to sit and watch everyone else at some point during the weekend. I usually end up laughing so hard I cry. And this year was certainly no exception. Bring your camera because you’re going to want proof of some of the things you see. The costumes are absolutely amazing. Some are disturbing and others are extremely clever. There truly is something for everyone.
8) The Parade
The parade is a great place to people-watch too, although not everyone who makes stunning costumes enters the parade, which is why people-watching throughout the con is a great idea. However, I love the parade because there are so many costumes to see and all you need to do is stand and watch. I have never seen the parade in person until this year. It does show on Dragon*Con TV; however, isn’t a parade better when you’re right there? I definitely recommend people try to watch at least one live parade. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
The way the parade is grouped by theme makes quite an impact. One Stormtrooper is geeky cool but an army of Stormtroopers is epic! Also, I don’t know where some of the floats can be seen except for in the parade. I could be wrong about this. All I know is it’s a great place to see things you may miss while enjoying the convention.
7) Hanging Out With Friends
Who else can understand the nerdy fun of Dragon*Con more than your nerdy friends? I definitely go to the convention to spend time with people I usually don’t get to see. It helps if your friends are into the same fandoms but even that doesn’t always matter. This year I had so much fun experiencing new things. My friends made it that much more fun. Especially when waiting in line. They can be a great resource in what or who you’d like to see. Plus, extra eyes are a huge help. The more there are in your group the easier it is for someone to spot the fantastic costumes or the guests walking around.
6) The Panels
Attending panels is a must for a television and movie addict like myself. This year I was able to see a WKRP in Cincinnati panel. I’m so glad I went. Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson loved sharing stories about their time on the show. It was a great trip down memory lane. It was interesting to learn that Howard isn’t thrilled about being in Flight of the Navigator. I have to say I still love that movie to this day. Also Loni spoke the praises of having the opportunity to play the smart blonde. I will admit it is something I’ve loved about WKRP. Jennifer really did know what was going on more than the guys with whom she was working.
The Stargate Mega Panel with Amanda Tapping, Christopher Heyerdahl, and David Nykl was a blast. They decided to do something different and got off the stage and out into the crowd. Each actor had a microphone and would allow fans to ask questions. I loved this because I was more towards the back and was able to get a great picture with Chris. There was a balcony in the ballroom the panel was held in and David threw his mic up to a fan so the balcony fans wouldn’t be left out of asking questions.
At the SGU panel David Blue, Patrick Gilmore, and Louis Ferreira had us rolling in our seats. Their panel became almost interactive. Patrick had his picture taken with a fan that has a giant Kurt Russell tattoo across his chest. To prove this Louis ran around the room with Patrick’s cell phone showing the entire panel the picture. If you’ve never been to a panel, what are you waiting for? You are missing out!
5) Elevator Experiences
I think some of my funniest moments have involved elevators. The convention is notorious for having crowded elevators. Instead of getting utterly frustrated and stressed about it, I laugh about it. This year one story stands out. Monday morning I was passing a group of people waiting for an elevator. Just as I walked by, the doors opened revealing an empty elevator. The people watching “Oooo’d” at it like those alien guys from Buzz Lightyear. An empty elevator was a true marvel to behold after a weekend of having to fight to get one one. I can’t say that I blame them.
4) The Art Show and Comics and Pop Art Rooms
I try to check out the art show and pop art rooms every year because there is always something new to see. This year I saw a gorgeous TARDIS silk tie. Sculpted dragon heads that mount on the wall were another find. There were plenty of steampunk designs as well as prints from just about every genre. My favorite, though, has to be the plate painted with a squirrel zombie. It is a design by Third Half Studios and it cracks me up.
These two rooms allow fans a chance to meet the artists and authors. As I writer I am always interested in other writers. I was very excited when I was able to meet author Bobby Nash. I highly doubt I’d ever have had the pleasure of chatting with him if it wasn’t for Dragon*Con.
I have yet to bid on artwork myself but I love that fans are able to do so at the convention. There are some amazing deals if you keep your eyes open. If you’re any type of artist it’s a great place to get inspiration. The Art Show and Comics and Pop Art Rooms are something that, like the parade, should be experienced at least once.
3) Handling Genuine Props
It’s truly amazing what you can see at Dragon*Con. Imagine my surprise when I realized that an actual ZPM (or ZedPM for those of you across the pond and up in Canada) was sitting on the table I was at. I’m a Stargate Atlantis extreme fan. On top of that, I’m a squirrel (a fan of David Hewlett). So holding a ZPM was thrilling to say the least. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. There’s a lot of that at the convention.
My other prop experience was with Marilyn’s dress from David Hewlett’s independent film A Dog’s Breakfast. Kate Hewlett, David Hewlett’s sister, plays his sister in the movie. For a squirrel like me, I was on Cloud 9 to have a chance to look at the dress. This is another case of being in the right place at the right time. I would like to thank my friend Jackie, who owns the dress, for allowing me to not just see it but try it on. Kate Hewlett was very generous in giving Jackie the dress. And Jackie, in turn, has been very generous in sharing the dress with all the fans. Trying on that dress was an experience I’ll never forget.
2) David Blue and Patrick Gilmore
Every Dragon*Con there seems to be a star or stars who make the experience even more special. For me it was David Blue and Patrick Gilmore of Syfy’s SGU. I have to say the actors of SGU are wonderful people and David and Patrick are no exception. I literally kept running into them during the convention. What I love about them is they always treated me kindly. I felt as if they were genuinely happy to run into fans. They seem to enjoy Dragon*Con as much as I do. It’s not always easy to approach an actor; however, these two seem to have a gift for making a fan feel welcome. My hat’s off to these guys. They made the convention exceptionally fun for me this year.
1) Partying at the Hard Rock
I’ve learned that if someone says they know where a good party is I FOLLOW them. Seriously the worst that can happen is the party isn’t that great and you end up leaving. However the BEST that can happen is they truly DO know where the best party is. Before you know it you’re partying with Garret Wang, Misha Collins, Colin Ferguson, Jordan Hinson, David Blue, Patrick Gilmore, Julie McNiven, and Amy Bruni. That’s what happened to me when I went to the Hard Rock party on Friday night.
It was amazing. All I can say is I’m so glad I decided to check this party out. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
I have to say this year has been my best Dragon*Con experience to date. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year.