Dragon Con: The birth and growing pangs of a nerd pilgrimage

Story highlights

  • Dragon Con 2013 is expected to draw 55,000 ticket-holders to downtown Atlanta
  • The con appeals to a broad spectrum of subcultures from passionate fan base
  • Dragon Con has taken steps to distance itself from controversial cofounder Ed Kramer
It took John and Jean Mayes of Richmond, Virginia, less than two hours to realize that they were woefully unprepared for their first Dragon Con in 2006.
The first hint came as they unloaded their car in front of the downtown Atlanta Hyatt hotel for the South's biggest science fiction and fantasy convention. Guests unloaded box after box of costumes from their vehicles, "as if they were clown cars," John Mayes recalls. "They just kept coming."
Alas, the Mayeses brought only one costume each: his Sandtrooper outfit and her biker scout regalia.
Then, there were the sights and sounds inside the hotel. And the smells ... Thousands of excited sci-fi and fantasy fans, many in costume, crowding into elevators, bars, hotel rooms and lobbies, gleefully reuniting and posing for pictures, makes everything a little more odoriferous, he said.
The Mayeses are members of the 501st Legion, an international costuming group known for showing up at parades dressed as Star Wars characters, so they're used to big groups of stormtroopers and Darth Vaders.