Convention Commotion


Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Onlookers at the Dragon Con Parade 2021

Millie Gotsch, Staff Writer

From September 2-6, Dragon Con, an event usually attended annually by Chamblee students, was hosted for the first time since 2019. 

“Dragon Con is a convention for nerds … People cosplay there and then they have these panels where they bring people to talk about certain subjects,” said Andrew Hatcher (‘23), an attendee and volunteer at this year’s Dragon Con.

The large and popular convention occurred on Labor Day weekend and took place in many different hotels and buildings around metro Atlanta. 

“It is across multiple buildings, […] I believe the name of [one] is the America Mart, where normally you would rent it out to show off your company’s products on different floors and they do that year-round. But for Dragon Con, they rent the first four floors, and the first three are the dealer’s hall, and you can buy goods,” said Spencer Yelk Woodruff (‘24), an attendee at the convention.

However, this year was different compared to the previous years of Dragon Con.

“There are a lot less people. A lot of the time, getting into hotels [where the Con is held], and getting into especially the dealership hall, can be a two-hour wait on a normal year. This year, I could just walk in there, so it was a lot more quiet than normal, some of the different areas where public gaming was set up was different, masks were mandatory, and if you had a vaccine or if you took both vaccinations, you had to have your card. And if you didn’t do that then you had to get a COVID check beforehand, and then you could buy your weekend pass, and then you were good for the weekend,” said Yelk Woodruff.

In efforts to keep people safe, the convention made sure to take proper precautions.

“There were less people and there was COVID stuff, so rooms were cleaned; they’d be closed for like an hour or so, every now and then,” said Hatcher.

However, taking precautions did lead to a little bit less content overall.

“It was a little different because a lot of rooms were closed for cleaning, there weren’t as many events, and then also the gaming section … There was arcade games the years before, but this year there wasn’t,” said Owen Trestrail (‘23).

The main components of Dragon Con include different exhibits around the center and a large parade.

“I was volunteering this year, so I was working shifts at the ‘Star Wars’ track, and then I was in the parade as a Jawa. I was there for the whole time in a hotel room too, so I stayed at the convention,” said Hatcher.

Two Dragon Con 2021 attendees cosplaying as character from the video game “Hollow Knight” (Photo courtesy of Andrew Hatcher)

Volunteering at the convention can be a great way to get volunteer hours and meet new people.

“[I had to] act as a buffer between the panelists and the audience so that people don’t crush the panelists, and then I counted people because due to COVID we had to be at around two-thirds capacity,” said Hatcher. “So I’d have to cut off if there were too many people, and then also just counted to see how many people were interested in the panel.”

The massive convention, which featured over 40,000 people in attendance this year according to Atlanta Magazine, spans over multiple buildings.

“There are … Different hotels filled with people that are cosplaying, so you can go up and take pictures with them. I was with a pair of friends who were in town, and they were cosplaying … Most of the time I went to the dealer’s hall with my father. There are a few floors that are just full of … Board games and card games and art and cosplay and just a ton of stuff,” said Yelk Woodruff.

The convention features many things to do, such as cosplaying, board games, video games, and more.

“They have big gaming rooms, like tabletop games like Catan and Dungeons and Dragons and then they also have video games, and I went to a ‘Star Wars’ costume contest thing, so we could see all these people in these costumes,” said Trestrail.

Other events included game tournaments, pop culture exhibits, and smaller parades.

They had this battle bot thing so I watched that, I’ve kind of already wanted to do stuff with robots, so I think I’m going to try to build one,” said Trestrail.

Cosplaying, or dressing up as characters from shows, movies, or games, is a major part of the convention.

One cosplayer of the Marvel character Deadpool at the Dragon Con Parade in 2019 (Photo courtesy of Millie Gotsch)

“Some people put a lot of work into their cosplays, it’s genuinely incredible. I can’t imagine wearing more than like a specific t-shirt or something, but the two people I was with had a different cosplay for each day, and the amount of luggage that they had for all the cosplays … It was crazy,” said Yelk Woodruff. “They had a ton of stuff there and some really detailed cosplay so it was really cool.”

Many people are uncertain how COVID-19 will affect the attendance of next year’s convention, or whether or not it will even take place.

“It all depends on how the COVID spike works right now because currently, it’s still going up, but if it starts to go down again and it sort of either flatlines or the pandemic ends by next time, I expect it to be at least slightly different, but I was assuming that this is probably how the next one was going to go with maybe more or less people just depending on if COVID is still spreading very fast or not,” said Yelk Woodruff.

Dragon Con 2021, although there was uncertainty over whether it would occur, went off without a hitch, and many will wait with high hopes until next year to attend it once again.