DragonCon 2016 celebrates science fiction fandom in Atlanta

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DragonCon 2016 celebrates its 30th year in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The DragonCon international science fiction and fantasy convention is hosted annually by the city of Atlanta.

Event activities include comic books, film, television, costuming, art, music, gaming, science and over 35 different fandom subgenres. Scientists, authors, actors, artists and entertainment luminaries hold panel discussions, workshops, parties, live concerts, puppet shows and contests over four days.

More than 77,000 science fiction fans worldwide attended over the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2 – Sept. 5. The Marriott Marquis, Sheraton Atlanta, Hyatt Regency, Georgia Aquarium, and other businesses welcomed fans, vendors, traders, celebrities and guests.

Dragon.Con costume of Queen Lannister

DragonCon chooses a charity to highlight every year. This year the official charity was the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency. DragonCon raised about $100,000 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation in 2015.

AmericaMart Building 2 was the location of vendors and traders of science fiction and fantasy memorabilia. Building 2 was emptied several times due to fire code violations regarding the number of people allow in the building at any one time. The line for Building 2 wrapped around the block.

The same applied to restaurants and food vendors with multiple lines of people waiting to buy food. Food court seating was sparse. Some people sat on the floor or ground to eat their meals.

Many people attended the annual Saturday morning parade. The two hour parade is free and starts along Peachtree Street. It features fans dressed as their favorite characters.

Science Fiction fans dressed up as Star Wars characters
Science Fiction fans dressed up as Star Wars characters

The characters range from the latest science fiction or fantasy film hero or heroine to dressing up as the carpet of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Fans often spend months designing unique costumes for the event. The more impressive the costume, the more likely people and professional media reporters will ask to take pictures of the costume and the wearer.

Many children at the DragonCon parade wore their own unique costumes. Several children said this was their first time at the parade and that they were having a great time.

One thirteen year old boy dressed as a villain from Star Wars said, “I’m [dressed as] Kylo Ren. I’m here to watch the parade with my family. This is my first time and I’m having a good time.”

Parade members made a special effort to shake the hands of children lined up along Peachtree Street route. Senior citizens participated as well. One mature female fan dressed as Queen Cersei Lannister from the HBO television series “Game of Thrones.” She sat on a rendition of The Iron Throne. Her version had wheels.

Controversy arose when two non-registered participates dressed up as the twin towers. The costumes consisted of boxes painted as the burning twin towers, paper flames and smoke. One of the towers dangled a small doll from one of the towers to emulate people who fell from the buildings. Appalled fans reported the couple to DragonCon’s headquarters. Security guards escorted the couple from the DragonCon area.

Facilitators of DragonCon are asking fans what improvements can be made for a bigger and better DragonCon in 2017. Please visit their website at DragonCon.org to share your ideas. Tickets for DragonCon 2017 range from $80 for early registration to $130 for regular registration.

Dragon.Con 2016
DragonCon 2016
C. C. J. Vann
C. C. J. Vann is a freelance journalist and photographer. Follow her on Twitter@ccjvann or visit her blogs at ccjvann.com and tuesdaysphotographer.com.