…I have a GOOD feeling about this…
For those unfamiliar, Dragon*Con is an annual four-day event typically held over Labor Day weekend that simply must be experienced to be fully understood. Held within five host-hotels, and essentially made up of multiple mini-conventions, or in Dragon*Con parlance, “Tracks,” focused on a multitude of different pop culture themes, movies, or television shows, Dragon*Con describes itself as the world’s largest multi-media convention, and takes special, well-earned pride in being “a convention for fans, by fans,” offering something of interest for fans of nearly anything under the suns, as well as Tracks in real sciences, cryptology, music & film, and even hosts an annual blood drive.
For members of the 501st, it is also a four-day & all-night (!) party to meet with friends from across the spectrum of fandom, dress in any manner of often elaborate, exquisite and eye-popping outfits and, quite simply, just have fun.
Of course, Star Wars finds itself one of the featured Tracks, and there’s always a contingent of Vader’s Fist in attendance. This year, our numbers may have been a little off due to the back-to-back two-fer with Celebration, but the 501st still made its presence known and brought a little bit of Celebration-spirit with them.
The Star Wars Track planners this year took special note of the fact that Dragon*Con was only a week after Celebration, opening up with a unique & apropos panel: Celebration Recovery.
Legion Commanding Officer Kris Kuipers was in attendance, as well as representatives from several other Star Wars fan groups. The consensus was clear: Celebration VI was a huge success, and a truly great time for Star Wars fans (okay….the food prices in the hotels were just a little high….), and experiencing the attendees’ excitement at all the dioramas, Shoot-A-Trooper, and Roxy the Rancor, re-confirmed everyone’s hard work was very much appreciated! If only we had… just…one…more…day to see all the panels we all missed while working or checking-out some other must-see event on the Celebration schedule. With the review complete, Track planners launched into their full Star Wars track programming and our members fully participated in all that Dragon*Con had to offer.
…Where are you going, Master?
For a drink…
501st veterans know that Dragon*Con has very particular vibes throughout each day, like shifts on a clock: 6am-4pm, Standard Convention Time: panels, photo shoots, floor gatherings; 4pm-9pm: Night(Transition) Convention Time: events with younglings end, twilight photo shoots, dinner and recharge: 9pm-6am: Dragon*Con Overnight Party Convention Time: more than you can imagine and exactly as you have probably heard rumor of throughout the years, including attendees heading to hotel-hosted raves that start at 3am and go until dawn! A word of caution for those who have yet to attend: pacing is absolutely essential…
Early on the first day, several troops and Sith Lords, most of whom were fresh from Celebration, could be seen on the floor of the host hotels. As the number of Dragon*Con attendees grew through the day and they took more and more pictures with our members, many asked to hear details of all that went on in Orlando, including what the 501st brought to fans there, and word of the events at Celebration spread quickly. Suffice it to say, the next Celebration is likely to see an uptick in regular Dragon*Con attendees!
General, prepare your troops for a surface attack….
Saturday morning brings the annual Dragon*Con parade, in which by rightful and most impressive tradition, the 501st Legion is the featured closing group, and one of many particular groups the parade attendees love to see. The parade tests both walkers and watchers given the assembly time and the few hours of sleep most are getting at this point in their Dragon*Con experience!
This year, the 501st looked especially sharp and, still displaying our Celebration VI energy, the parade participants kept the crowd entertained, charging everyone up for the second full day of Dragon*Con 2012! No matter how often you may see it, few things are as exciting as columns of Stormtroopers on the move. Especially when they’re waving Hi! and throwing out hi-fives to fans sitting on the parade route!
…I don’t believe it!
Because Dragon*Con invites and motivates attendees to dress in a myriad of spectacular outfits, from comic book & movie heroes to literary legends, and everything in between, the Overnight Party Time often doesn’t see as many troopers or familiar Star Wars characters as during the day, but a plethora of different Sith Lords and vassals can always be found! And, a few…”alternate dress” or “on vacation” troopers are frequently spotted on patrol.
Those who have been to Dragon*Con before know that through the eyes of Star Wars, Dragon*Con doesn’t hit maximum thrust until someone spots a Stormtrooper in surfer shorts holding a beach ball, and multiple lightsabers ignite in unison at 2am amidst subdued hotel lighting.
As someone who has spent untold hours researching, assembling or appearing in one outfit or another, I can attest that the creativity of the outfits Dragon*Con attendees appear in is unsurpassed, no matter which galaxy the character comes from!
Take Care…May the Force Be With You
Like all good times, the non-stop party drew to a close, and the proverbial fire-breathing dragon that is the spirit & symbol of the convention went into hibernation until ready to stretch its wings again next year (note to would-be attendees: schedule some recovery time…). As with Celebration, we all reluctantly made ready to depart, closing out a spectacular summer of Star Wars fandom.
The brothers and sisters of the 501st Legion will look back on the 2012 convention season as a year of hard work and tremendous fun. With an eye toward future Star WarsCelebrations, local conventions, and a return to Atlanta for the annual Dragon*Con adventure, we know we again have community events to attend to, donations to raise, armor to polish, blasters to light, lightsabers to build and robes to mend as we continue to do what we do best: bring Star Wars to life for fans everywhere.
With many hugs, back slaps, and early planning to see each other again, the word went out:
I’ll meet you at the rendezvous point!
Lawrence Green wanted to be a Stormtrooper or Luke Skywalker when he first saw Star Wars. Now, he’s both, as a member of the 501st and Rebel Legions. Designated by 501st founder Albin Johnson at the 2007 Rose Parade as “the 501st’s own Jedi-Luke”, Lawrence is the Executive Officer & Public/Media Relations Officer of the 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison. You can follow his personal tweets at@Lawrence_Green and find the SoCal Garrison atwww.southerncaliforniagarrison.com and @501SCG.