Updated: Sep 14, 2019
The Dragon-Con Parade is arguably one of the most memorable and iconic events in Atlanta’s culture as a cultural and artistic powerhouse in the South, and after attending it for the first time this year, I understood why. Dragon Con’s parade covers all the bases, from the enthralling vibrancy and detail of the costumes and floats to the adrenaline of being surrounded by thousands of other geeks and nerds. People began assembling along the sides of the road to get a good spot for the parade around 9 AM, sweltering in the unforgiving Atlanta sun for over an hour. Occasional cheers as random volunteers and staff members hyped up the crowd as we waited for the parade to begin, but from the moment that first bagpipe player came into sight, I knew I was in for an exciting ride.
The Jurassic Park trailer drove leisurely by, chased by good-natured T-Rexes and triceratops, followed by Seed and Feed, a massive community marching band of Disney princesses, gladiators, and Batwomen. Their explosive performance was an electrifying mixture of music and theater, keeping the crowd energized and excited for the acts yet to come.
Marking a particularly touching moment was when a younger audience member requested to take a picture with Superman and Superwoman, stepping out from the side of the crowd in the midst of a chaotic parade. I was genuinely surprised by the patience and commitment to character that these two, as well as many of the other performers, displayed when interacting with the crowd. In fact, this specific interaction was truly made complete by an impromptu photo-bomb from Harley Quinn.
The parade truly catered and represented almost every aspect of fandom imaginable. Each group brought their own unique flavors to the table, expressing passion in a way that made everyone feel welcome and part of something greater. Dedicated communities for Dragon Age, Game of Thrones, League of Legends, and Overwatch marched alongside a Walt Disney introducing a massive group of fairies, elves, animals…and Elsa. Elsa gets her own category. Stupendous.
Dragon-Con is also known for its commitment to charity and giving back to the larger Atlanta community, and its support and showcase of the American Heart Association and LifeSouth during the parade, as well as throughout the convention this year truly affirmed this.
Of course, we couldn’t discuss the parade without talking about the Cult of the Marriott Carpet. Coming into Dragon-Con for the first time, I was taken by surprise as I watched people roll on the road wearing sacks of blue, red, and yellow, and men in Carpet fat suits dabbed as they ran by. A somber Carpet priest wielding a staff read from a book while a horde of Carpet cheerleaders of all ages wearing uniforms with the iconic pattern marched by, leaving me in a sense of amusement and pleasant confusion, a feeling I would soon grow to adore.
Ultimately, the Dragon-Con parade this year was truly an eye opener for me. As a self-proclaimed nerd, I knew there would be crowds and chaos, but the sheer amount of admiration and support in every cheer and applause showed me the importance of Dragon-Con and fandom, not only for any one person, but for the entire diverse, dynamic community. For a few hours or a few days, people come together to bond over their interests, support passionate entrepreneurs, artists and creatives, and most importantly, celebrate and strengthen the positive impact that fandom can have on our society. The parade proved to be a showcase of just that: a celebration of all the talent and artistry but also that of an opportunity to be loud and proud about what you love, no matter how unconventional. How befitting it would be that it would all take place at a legendary fandom convention.
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,500 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.