It’s not often you can stand in a bathroom in downtown Atlanta, at some of the finest hotels, and share the bathroom with a Storm Trooper, a goblin, and what appears to be a zombie with a severed head prop resting by the sink. But what can you say? Labor Day weekend in Atlanta is unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else.
Between the AT&T Kickoff Concert, the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, the Braves in action at Turner Field, the big NASCAR race at AMS… it’s a lot to navigate. But the biggest attraction of the weekend for many is, of course, Dragon Con! And again this year, Greg Euston, Dan Carroll and the unbelievable Dragon Con staff managed to put on the biggest event to date with flawless execution.
Friday night at Dragon Con has become a destination. Looking down from the eighth floor of the Marriot Marquis, you cannot even see the carpet beneath the sea of costumes, fan boys and pop culture enthusiasts – it’s just that crazy. They flood the hotels, spill off into the streets, and the party of the weekend is officially underway. And the vibe is especially awesome. Everyone is upbeat, extremely engaged in the scene and complimentary of the time and effort that were put in to the various costumes. I swear at one point I saw Han Solo and Spock sharing a drink at Twenty-Two Storys in the Hyatt. Last call comes quickly (or so it seems) and the bartender tells Harry Potter and the gaggle of zombies to put in for their final drinks.
Saturday morning is the real event. We wake early, clean ourselves up and get downstairs to pick out a prime spot along the parade route. The Dragon Con parade is now the largest this city hosts on an annual basis, and a chance for the weekend’s most ardent visitors to showcase their costumes as they march through the normally crowded streets in the city. There are people along every sidewalk, 5-10 people deep, snapping as many pictures as their phones and cameras will allow. It’s almost as if this army of costumed party-goers had won some sort of pop culture World Series, the way the crowd hollers and cheers for them as they pass.
Then it’s on to the vendors, which this year were moved into the AT&T America Mart – which was a perfect spot for them. I personally spend WAY outside of my budgeted amount on shirts, collectibles and a SHIELD messenger bag that will now take over as my work bag at 680. We move on to the Walk of Fame, which now consumes most of the Marriot downstairs, and I get the chance to shake the hands of some real legends, like Billy Dee Williams and Ed Asner to name two. The Hilton is buzzing with gamers, card games and role play going on everywhere. You could easily burn an entire day sitting across from people you’d just met and battling them to the proverbial death through cards and guide books.
Not to mention the panels, the autographs, the pictures… it’s almost unfair to put it into just one weekend, because there’s just too much to see and do.
The 2013 scene at Dragon Con was electric, and not enough can be said about their staff, organizers and security personnel. They are top notch, and make the chaos of 50,000 people spread out across three hotels seem as organized as a school fire drill. It’s a blast – and if you can pry yourself away from sports for a weekend to do some serious people watching, this is the weekend to do it!
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