Thursday, September 30, 2021

Cons in the Age of Covid


We all saw the memes in the spring of 2020, right?  As the inedptitude of the Trump adminsitration lead to a massive pandemic across the United States, normal social activities began to get canceled.  Schools went remote, movie thearters and Broadway shut down, concerts were delayed and then canceled as large groups of people began to spread the virus in so called "Super Spreader Events".  And as nerds and geeks watched on, we wondered aloud, "what is going to happen to our comic conventions?"  No matter the time of the year, cons are large events which massive numbers of people mingling together in close contact.  Con Crud is a real thing as any regular con goer can attest to that Monday after a weekend of nerding it up- and this was without a pandemic.

Slowly but surely, cons began to cancel.  Smaller ones like South Carolina Comic Con and to massive ones like San Diego Comic Con.  Cons tried to go remote and did their best to offer something to that starving audience who cannot wait to meet their friends and heroes and enjoy a weekend doing the thing they love.

So Dragon Con went remote in 2020 and I was pretty distraught.  As an avid attendee for the past 10 plus years, Dragon Con is my annual escape and refuge to have that one long weekend to see old friends, enjoy the cosplay, and have a good time with my kids looking for merch that we can wear for the next few years.

And as the pandemic weakened and we got the vaccine, there was hope at the start of 2021, even tho we experienced that spring surge which caused other cons to cancel or delay again.  But some pushed on, whether they required masks or a negative Covid test, or a proof of vaccination, the business of nerdom wanted to push forward.  And I waited on Dragon Con to make their decision with apprehension.  Dragon Con draws a massive number of fans each year and could it be done safely without becoming a Super Spreader Event?

The organizers listened to the experts and put in place rules and regulations to help keep people safe while they attended Dragon Con.  First they reduced the number of attendees which, I am sure was a big concession for the organizers.  They also required masks AND proof of a vaccine or a negative Covid test within 3 days of the event.  Huge issues for those wanting to attend but to help those who did attend stay safe.

So how did it go?  It was outstanding and props to the folks of Dragon Con and the attendees who followed the rules the best they could by masking up, even while keeping on their cosplay.  The attendance cap made for an experience that kept everyone safe but also left more space than normal to get around from hotel to hotel.  Its wild because one of the best things about Dragon Con is the craziness of the crowds and the expereince, but this controlled environment had its benefits as well as I was able to get pictures and video of people I rarely got a chance to get before.

Lobby of the Marriot

Badge pick up, which can often be the most challenging aspect of attending Dragon Con was smooth as the lines were reasonable and the badge process was very easy to navigate without any long waits.

Even the beloved Dragon Con Parade, which draws thousands of fans and thousands of onlookers who only attend parade as a part of the Dragon Con expereince was reduced to ticket holders only to keep attendance down and help Stop the Spread.

The guest list was still outstanding; although attempting to get a picture with your favorite celebrity also needed to be safe.  Plexiglass was the norm for most; although some celebs came out and still shook hands and hugged their fans, the priority was safety and, in my 3 days of attendance, I did not see one incident of fans complaining about the masks or the rules.  I think people missed this event so much from 2020, they would do anything to be able to have back their beloved Dragon Con.

Overall, still a great expereince put on by the folks at Dragon Con.  I have pictures uploaded on our Flikr page and you can find that link here

And videos on our youtube page which you can find here.  Please like and subscribe

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