The Dragon Con parade takes Atlanta by storm

Three cosplayers march past CVS as part of Atlanta’s Dragon Con parade. Dragon Con is a great way for friends to dress up in coordinated cosplays and march together as a group. // Photo by Sloan Salinas Student Publications

Since 1987, Atlanta has played host to Dragon Con, one of the largest fan-run, multi-media and pop culture conventions in the world. 

Built from the desire to have a single convention that could cater to fans of more than one genre, the five-day event focuses on everything from science fiction, fantasy, gaming and anime to literature, music, art and film. 

Since its creation, Dragon Con has grown far beyond the original single-hotel layout with an attendance of around 1,200 people. 

Now, the convention stretches between five different hotels as well as the AmericasMart and attracts over 75,000 people every Labor Day weekend. 

One of the main attractions over the course of the weekend was the Dragon Con Parade. 

Traipsing through Midtown Atlanta, the parade route traveled the length of Peachtree Street NE before looping around to end in front of the Hyatt hotel on Peachtree Center Avenue NE. 

Thousands of people lined the sides of the streets as cosplayers walked the roads dressed as characters from almost every kind of media, such as movies, TV shows and video games. 

The parade creates an energetic buzz of excitement around the city every year, and this year was no exception. As early as 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, costumed convention attendees could be seen finding spots to watch the parade or getting ready to walk in it themselves. 

Netherworld Haunted House prepared a towering float of skeletons, zombies and ghoulish pumpkins while several feet in front of them, two men prepared a rolling replica of the X-Wing (Star Wars), complete with R2-D2 perched on top. 

Over the next several hours, costumed and plain-clothed fans of all ages roamed the streets as they waited for the parade to start. 

They fixed each other’s makeup, mingled, took pictures with their favorite characters and just generally absorbed the feel-good energy of the weekend. 

One such attendee was Chris Godbey, a California-native who has been active in the convention scene since 1970. Because she has family living in Georgia, she says that she keeps a costume closet at their place, allowing her to change costumes every day of Dragon Con. 

When she spoke to the Technique, the woman was dressed as a character from Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” 

She wore a layered black and white skirt underneath a lined black corset. 

An ornate shoulder cover sat on top of the corset and beads stood out like silver raindrops against the black mesh of the cover. 

Black satin gloves were pulled up past her elbows and a floppy black and white hat shrouded her face. A single red flower stood out as the only pop of color in her costume. 

Her elaborate costume, combined with the fact that she has a different one for every day of the convention, shows the dedication that many Dragon Con fans have to the annual event. 

While costume contests are a common thing during most conventions, Dragon Con was one of the first of its time to encourage all-day cosplay outside of competition. 

The weekend attracts skilled cosplayers from near and far who see it as the perfect opportunity to show off the products of countless hours of work. 

Some convention-goers have sewn dresses seen in video games, pieced together leather armor by hand, crafted motorized fairy wings and designed intricate headpieces and fake weaponry from fictional worlds. 

Saturday morning, they all walk down the street in a celebration of creativity.

After the parade concluded in between the spread of host hotels, Dragon Con continued to be a lively environment where fans could showcase the passion that they have for the media that they love and receive nothing but acceptance and support from those around them. 

New cosplayers smiled widely as children who recognized their character in the parade came to ask for a photo with them. 

People excitedly got in line for panels hosted by their favorite actors, artists and authors; shopped among the numerous vendors selling everything from pins and t-shirts to shoulder puppets and figurines; and formed new friendships in the halls of the hotels. 

The annual convention has become a staple of Atlanta, bringing thousands of people and celebrities over Labor Day weekend for almost 120 hours of memories that will continue to be talked about until next year’s con rolls around.