0 12 min 5 mths

As I boarded the plane heading back to my home to collect my thoughts, I could not help to ponder about the amazing convention that I would leave behind. After 29 years and close to 200 conventions attended, nothing could have ever prepared me for the fun, fandom and madness that I just endured over the course of Labor Day weekend.

It was a convention that is well-known once you hear its name. It’s a con that once you stepped foot within its many hotels and connecting skybridges, you could never forget. It was a place that all of time stood still and all of fandom came to the streets of the mighty Peachtree. Dean on the Scene can now finally say that I have lived for I have been to DRAGON CON!

Yes, you read that right. Until this weekend, yours truly have never been to the halls of Dragon Con. I have traveled to the cons in Hartford (90s Con), Orlando (MegaCon), Vegas (CinemaCon) and the many cons in the DC/Baltimore Metro Area (Too many to name). With all those experiences, this was the ultimate fan escapade that stunned me in many good ways that I couldn’t put into limited words and in one sitting. Let’s get started with Part I, shall we?

My adventure begins on Friday afternoon as my plane touched down at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and I took the MARTA train for the very first time to Peachtree Center. As I made my way through the maze of the station, up escalator & through “The Hub” until I finally found DC Central at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. From the moment, I took my first steps in the hallway and looked at the crowds of fans & the cavernous atrium that stretches stories high. My first thoughts were “What the hell did I get myself into?” It was a bit to take in but once I found my room on the 27th floor and settled in with my Starfleet crew, I decided to explore the place to see what life has brought me.

To be in the actual hotel that was featured in “The Hunger Games” trilogy was very exciting but to descend onto the Atrium level and see the people from different walks of life embracing many fandoms at one place was totally surreal. This is geek heaven, and they are not afraid to show it. While enjoying lunch at the Hub, I got to talk to one of the attendees named Jim from St. Augustine, FL who have been DC since 1996 and I asked him a few questions about his experience at Dragon Con through the years.

DR:  So, what is it about Dragon Con that made you come year after year after year since 96?

JST: The people, the people, these are the right people, this is the way people should be. They’re accepting the intelligent. It’s just a great place to be.

DR: And of all the fandoms that you experience over the years, what is your number one fandom?

JST: That’s kind of hard, because I’ve evolved through so many means coming here learned about so many learn about all kinds of stuff. And I spent a lot of time with the spacecraft to the space track. We’ve actually had a number over the years, a number of people that are just amazing, have met rocket scientists. I’ve met a couple of women who have instruments on other planets. One of the guys in the crowds was talking about the Deep Space Network. And now, that’s how they get all the information back. He was here as a fan. He is the director of the Deep Space Network; all our world communications go through him.

DR: Well, since I’m a first time Dragon Con goer and for all those who are never been to Dragon Con, what advice would you give to survive this?

JST: Get to the parade early because that will fill up very quickly. And pace yourself because it’s five days of non-stop. Remember to eat every now and then. It’s really easy to fill out your schedule and realize there’s no place left for you to go get a bite. And enjoy yourself, there’s virtually everything you can imagine here.

I really thank Jim for his advice and that put my fears at rest.   After lunch, I headed back to the Marquis and decided to check out the” Walk of Fame” – which I love the name for the record. It was the place where fans get to interact with the favorite celebs from the shows they love. No matter if you were into anime, “Babylon 5”, “The Orville”, “Discovery”, “Strange New Worlds”, “Hocus Pocus: & the like, the gang’s all here to meet & greet you and you maybe get to hear a story or two.

With Dragon Con, things were a little different as we were a few weeks into the now WGA/SGA-AFTRA strikes. Because of this, the game has changed regarding what actors can and cannot do during the cons. The good news is that the actors can attend the conventions and meet their fans (whew). The bad news is that they can only bring pictures of them that are not part of struck shows that in are production. I must give props to Dragon Con as they provided character photos of the actors from the multiple shows for free in case you didn’t bring one.

As soon I walked through the Walk of Fame, I encountered Peter Macon from “The Orville” and he recognized me instantly. Then a few minutes later, Wilson Cruz from “Star Trek: Discovery” called me over to his table. This was very cool since I got to interview both for the magazine, and we were playing catch-up of what happened in our lives since. Peter gave me some helpful hints about being at DC while Wilson and I are still new to the place as this was only his second Dragon Con.

Then I saw Ian Alexander, also from Discovery, and talked to them for a bit. As I was gabbing about my city in Fairfax County and letting them know that the city is a Korean food lovers paradise, Ian’s eyes lit up as they knew the city, I live in. Only to find out that not only they lived in the same area for four years before being on “Discovery” but also went to the local high school. Talk about a small world of fandom and it was very cool to know this! Before Ian, the only other celeb I knew who lived in the area was the legendary Mark Hamill who went to the local high school in my fair city. For the fact alone, I knew I had to get Ian’s autograph the next day, which I did!

For the rest of the first day, I got to walk about the other host hotels and soak in the atmosphere of the geek mecca before settling in and preparing for day number two.

Saturday (Day 2) started off with a bang for me. Thanks to our photographer Cheryl and the advice from Jim yesterday, I arrived early at the corner of Peachtree Street & Baker to be stationed at our media spot to see this year’s Dragon Con parade. Before today, I have only seen the parade on YouTube and in pictures. Seeing the parade, live & in-person takes on the whole new level.

KITT 2000 from Knight Rider

I have seen Marty Krofft from the Sid & Marty Krofft and Discovery’s Wilson Cruz riding in Ford Mustang convertibles. I loved seeing the movie cars along the parade route since I love famous cars and this year’s rollies was no different. I was awe seeing the KITT 2000 (Pontiac Trans Am) from “Knight Rider” to the 1966 Batmobile to the Jeep Wrangler from “Jurassic Park”. Another highlight was seeing multiple fandoms represented during the parade whether you’re a fan of Federation, a Whovian or a Warsie – your fandom was on display! As I pulled out my camera to get some footage, I had a few characters who decided to get up close & personal with me from MEGAN to ghosts and some scary clowns. I even got a hug from our local cosplayer, Joe Colton, as she participated in the Wonder Woman group. This is one of the best parades I have ever seen at a con. I just wished we had something like it in DC. Why not!?! We hosted many parades on Constitution Ave. I propose that we have a fandom parade in our Nation’s Capital!

The Twisted Toonz Panel at Dragon Con

It would not be a convention without attending a few panels and hear from our favorite celebrities. The first panel that truly caught my eye was the Twisted Toonz: A Comedic Reading! The moment I read that five voice actors on one stage for a full hour giving new voices to a movie and I was there! This was the place where you have to imagine the biggest voice actors in the universe come together for an hour and experience a favorite in a totally new way. For this year, the voices they brought are outstanding. You had Dee Bradley Baker who will always be “Olmec” from Legends of the Hidden Temple, Maurice LaMarche – the Brain from Pinky & the Brain, Samurai Jack’s Phil LaMarr, The Walkin Dead’s Khary Payton who did voices for DC Media including “Young Justice” and finally Billy West from “Futurama”, Doug” & “Ren & Stimpy”. The voice over quintet to give their take on the classic MGM film “The Wizard of Oz”. They acted out a few scenes – each other delivering their lines with some iconic voices. It was thrilling to hear the Brain from Maurice, President Obama from Phil LaMarr and Stimpy from Billy West. I honest could not stop laughing and smiling for this was so entertaining that I am already looking forward to the next go-round!

Transmission interrupted…. Stay tuned for Part II

Until next time, See you….. out there!!!

About The Author