Atlanta's Dragon*Con Takes Over, Defines City

Since it began in 1987, the science fiction and fantasy convention is now the largest of its kind, earning Atlanta the title of nerdiest city.

Photo by: John Amis/AFP/Getty Images The parade down Atlanta's Peachtree Street is a highlight of Dragon*Con. 

This weekend in Atlanta you might see Stormtroopers taking MARTA downtown or zombies in line at Starbucks. No, there’s no mass call for jury duty and The Walking Dead isn’t holding a casting call. It’s Dragon*Con 2013, that time of year when adults dress up as their favorite superheroes, cartoon characters or sci-fi cast members. You see, in Atlanta that doesn’t just happen on Halloween; we wear tights, grease paint and wigs on Labor Day weekend, too. 

Since it began in 1987, Dragon*Con is now the sixth-largest convention in the state and hosts Georgia’s largest parade. Attendance has grown from 1,400 fans and participants to more than 52,000 in 2012. Taking place over the four-day weekend (Aug. 30 – Sept. 2), activities will be held at AmericasMart and at five host hotels: the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree and Sheraton Atlanta. There are also Braves games at Turner Field; Alabama takes on Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome; the Sparks play at Philips Arena; and Black Gay Pride is also this weekend. 

John Amis/AFP/Getty Images Pictured here in front of Atlanta's Equitable Building, this Batman from 2012's parade doesn't know what to do with his bomb. 

The number of folks from the entertainment industry has also increased. This year more than 400 actors from television and movies are scheduled to appear over the wacky four days of panels, parties and parades. William Shatner, George Takei, Ed Asner, Lucy Lawless and Lee Majors are just a few of the celebrities meeting and greeting fans and leading panel discussions about classic television series such as Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man and animated favorites such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Pinky and the Brain. 

Writers, actors and producers from popular shows such as True Blood, Doctor Who, The Bionic Woman and Torchwood will also be on hand. Seven actors from The Walking Dead, including Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden, Scott Wilson and Michael Rooker, will discuss filming in Georgia. Kelly Hu of The Vampire Diaries, also filmed in Georgia, is scheduled to appear as well. 

Photo by Frank Mullen/WireImage Dragon*Con just proves that even pretty women in Atlanta can be nerds, too. 

And if you don’t have tickets to the convention, the parade is an absolute must-see. It begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. on West Peachtree Place near West Peachtree Street, then goes right on Spring Street, east on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, south on Peachtree Street, east on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north on Peachtree Center Avenue, ending on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. 

In addition to all the convention fun, there are also loads of parties including a Revenge of the Nerds homecoming dance, a zombie prom, a gothic pool party and KISSNATION: A KISS tribute show. The “Daily Dragon” blog has a great list of parties and other goings on. 

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