Imagine a convention that celebrates the decade where we found a whole new way to communicate… online. It was the decade where TV shows like Party of Five, Family Matters, Mickey Mouse Club and Charmed truly spoke to a generation of youth. It was the decade where boy bands like N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys & girl groups like The Spice Girls and TLC ruled the charts! It was the time where we see three witches put a spell on us and a cray wild-eyed scientist and a California teen to us on a adventure through time in a move trilogy. Now can you imagine meeting those 90s stars in one place. On the 2nd weekend of March, the city of Hartford played host to the first 90s Con!
After weeks of radical hype, the first true 90s Con took place in Hartford, CT at the Connecticut Convention Center. Throughout the days, fans got to live out some of their 90s childhood memories including sitting in a DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future to seeing a variety of Spice Girls tour wardrobe in a special exhibit. Other fans, like me, enjoyed sitting on the big orange couch while reminiscing about Saturday Night Nickelodeon (SNICK) to playing some of their favorite classic video games like Duck Hunt, Sonic the Hedgehog, NBA Jam and Goldeneye to name a few.
For many people attending, coming to 90s Con was a trip back to simpler times – before internet and social media had taken over the landscape of our lives. When many people stepped in the main hall, the feel-good memories of the 90s was everywhere. Numerous banners hang from ceilings were geared towards incredible 90s references including Whoa! Way (Blossom) & As If Avenue (Clueless). Throughout the day, the fans really felt the wave of nostalgia as we got to hear enduring playlist of 90s music and TV Theme Songs – everything from “I’ll Be There for You” from Friends to the theme to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.
While the children of the 90s got to relive some of the glorious childhood, the kids of the today got a opportunity to experience what we did back in the day. Some brave kids got to get slimed in the Slime Machine while others put in some quarters into a couple of classic pinball machines. There was a Kid’s Zone, thanks to Incredikids, which had workshops all weekend long! Kids got free caricatures courtesy of Joe Ryan, got a chance to be a puppeteer with award-winning puppeteer Bill Diamond and learn how to create cartoons and design their own fantasy characters.
Day one at 90s Con kicked off with a bang as Kim Possible’s Christy Carlson Romano serves as the official host of the convention. Romano was a good host asking on point questions while helping us remember the people who made the 90s – our decade of adventure, fun & excitement this weekend. Friday’s panels included two of the best teen shows of the 90s – “Mickey Mouse Club” and “All That”. Both of these shows were ahead of their time as they provided the perfect dose of comedy, music and a positive energy. To see those teens on television is one thing, but for the fans who grew up watching them, to meet them here takes on a whole new level.
One fan, Sam Zernig, traveled all the way from across the pond in England and brought an original “Family Matters” script he hoped to get signed by the visiting cast members. He talks about what the show means to him “Family Matters means so much to me because I am a German and Family Matters in Germany is the next level. It’s one of the most popular shows of the 90s. As soon as they announced that the cast was joining 90s Con, I had to book a flight and come over here.” His favorite moment of the 90s was the feel good, fun time, and attitude towards the future that he felt we lost in recent times. He stated that “the 90s were all about positivity, we can make it happen.”
Day two was filled with fans on the convention floor waiting to meet many of the influential stars of the 90s. Panels of the day included the cast of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, Boy Meets World and Full House. In the mid-afternoon, about two dozen people entered the cosplay contest, hosted by comedienne Caroline Rhea, who kept us in stitches during the hour. Helping to make the final choices were Kellie Shanygne Williams of “Family Matters”, Lacey Chabert of “Party of Five” & Kimberly J. Brown of “Halloweentown”. Among the entries this year include Wil of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mr. Tastee & the Orange Lazarus from “Pete & Pete”, Helga and Arnold, Wayne & Garth from Wayne’s World and a frozen Jack from Titanic. It was a gift from the arms of an “angel” that a Sarah McLachlan ASPCA cosplayer (Giannina Cipolloni) won the grand prize. She fully committed to the character by even reciting the words from the actual commercial. The prizes of the winners were provided by Ultimate -Wireless.com
Cipolloni, who won the contest as Sarah McLachlan, told us about how she came up with the cosplay “So, truthfully I listened to “90s on 9” on Sirius XM and Sarah McLachlan came on and I said No one is going to be this at cosplay, so I am going to dress up as Sarah and I think its gonna pull the heartstrings of the crowd.” She has a lot of materials already on hand but had to order the wig. For what brought her to 90s Con, she said that “Every star that’s here, really the Backstreet Boys specifically AJ McLean.” And she added, “We had to come to 90s Con, this is my childhood.”
Terrence John who did a mean cosplay of Wil from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and earned second place by doing so. He mentioned about cosplaying Wil, “I am a big fan of Fresh Prince. I have been binge watching the show and everything. I started doing the Wil Smith costume in 2019. I had the hairstyle. Will Smith influenced me a lot of who I am as a person. I got the cosplay ready and I have been doing it ever since.”
Saturday night featured an after party with the cast members from the Mickey Mouse Club for ninety minutes of entertainment. Lindsey Alley served as the host as she brings her wit and humor to the fans. When she brought fellow cast member Tony Lucca to the stage, they perform an original song to the tune of the Friends theme song. Now I can never listen to “I’ll Be There for You” the same way again – thanks Lindsey. Tony Lucca performed some of his original songs. Diva Jennifer McGill got us on the dance floor with some pop hits like “I’m Every Woman” while Damon Pampolina dazzied us with his DJ spinning expertise. The night ended when The Party came out to perform some of their songs. It was their first performance since former Party member Tiffini Hale passed away last December. We all felt her presence in the room and in our hearts.
The third and final day of the con involved the arrival of N’SYNC’s own and Orlando grown Joey Fatone and meeting his fans. While, the TRR team got an exclusive interview with the cast of Family Matters and more from the MMC which will be featured in another article. Jenna Leigh Green of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” said this about 90s Con, “It’s super exciting. Everybody’s been so fantastic really excited! Its been great to meet fans of the show.” Later today, she and the cast of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the cast of Boy Meets World will battle each other to see who truly knows the decade in a 90s Trivia Challenge!
Among the highlights for Day 3 is the epic 90s supergroup when AJ McLean & Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys and Joey Fatone of N’SYNC joined T-Boz and Chili of TLC to perform the girl group epic hit “Waterfalls” and doing the waterfall dance onstage during their panel. This was a once in a lifetime moment you truly had to see to believe. Its sometimes hard to believe that some of the best television, movies and music that helped shaped our lives were three decades ago.
When it came to what people’s favorite 90s moments, I have gotten a lot of feedback. For some it’s the boy bands and the girls, the outfits, the fun movies, the creativity in cartoons and TV shows. And for the others, it’s the music, the major events and the fads that are making a comeback lately
90s Con is a good con for those who want to relive this awesome decade. I have a feeling that we could see a 90s Con Part II in the future. Until then, keep those Air Jordans, acid-wash jeans and vibrant color blazers on standby – the 90s are here to stay.
FINAL GRADE: A+++