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Posted: September 1, 2012 9:36 p.m.

Dragon*Con brings out the kid in us all

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Traffic came to a screeching halt in downtown Atlanta Saturday morning as a group of oddly dressed heroes took to the streets. No, this was not a scene from the latest "Avengers" movie. Instead, it was the annual Dragon*Con costume parade, the pinnacle event for the ever popular pop culture convention.

For the first time, I joined the more than 40,000 other rank and file of nerdom attending the conference to experience the phenomena for myself. If you are unfamiliar with Dragon*Con, the annual event is the largest multimedia, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the country. The four-day event offers thousands of hours of entertainment in the form of panels, celebrity autograph signings, merchandise booths, and expert-led discussions.

Having never attended any sort of cultural convention before, I really had no idea what to expect. Upon picking up my press pass Friday, the first thing I noticed was the fantastic handmade costumes on display in every corner of the convention. Some of them were immediately recognizable: Batman and his collection of bad guys and gals; Scooby Doo and the gang; Stromtroopers and Jedi galore. Seeing those iconic characters in "real life" made me feel like a kid seeing his dreams come to reality. But the adult part of me was far more fascinated by the lesser known steampunk community.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, steampunk is a genre that incorporates Victorian era settings and dress and mixes them with a dash of science fiction and boatloads of sprockets, airships, and, of course, steam powered machines. The result is a fascinating blend of period piece outfits married with alternate versions of present day technologies. Each steampunk costume I saw was elegantly different. Each person had molded an odd trinket here and an abandon fire extinguisher there into a unique and wholly impressive costume.

Of course, not everyone at the convention is required to wear a costume, so don't let your own lack of artistic ability put you off attending future events. I wore only a token costume, while others in my party chose not to partake at all. None of us were ever shunned for our lack of creativity. Overall, the hardcore attendees were a pleasure to be around, freely posing for our cameras and chatting about their costumes.

Anyone who would consider themselves a fan of science fiction, fantasy, comics, anime, or gaming owes it to themselves to attend Dragon*Con at least once. The official entertainment is fun and informative while the costumes and community will have you feeling like a kid again.

Tyler Smith is the webmaster for The Covington News. He and videographer William Brawley headed out to Dragon*Con this weekend to take pictures and video of the craziness that is science fiction fandom.

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