By Sue Rodman
He had been plotting the attack all week. The weapon was concealed so well, that I didn’t even know he had it until it was drawn, a surprise attack on one of the most notorious villains in the galaxy, Darth Vader.
The whole affair had me rolling with laughter. My teen just whipped out his plastic lightsaber, autographed by Jedi Mickey during a Star Wars Weekends trip, and began dueling with Darth Vader. Vader was good-natured about the attack, stopping his Dragon Con parade preparations to duel with my teenager for a few minutes. The stormtrooper wasn’t as friendly. There was something about where he would stick that lightsaber and how much he paid for his costume. It’s a costume buddy, not the real world. Lighten up. As you can see, I’m still a bit bitter about his reaction, but not about the Dragon Con parade, it’s definitely the best parade I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter how old you are or even if you’re a Sci-Fi fan, there is something for everyone here, Klingons, Harry Potter characters, pirates, stormtroopers, Mad Max back from the ThunderDome, even princesses.
Nine tips to help you plan your Dragon Con Parade Experience
Get There Early: The Dragon Con parade steps off at 10 a.m. the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, but the crowd starts gathering well before 8 a.m. 75,000 people attended last year’s parade and the same is expected this year too. Don’t let that number scare you off, but do prepare for crowds and get there early. Bring your own chairs if you like. Kids often sit on the curb, though, it’s important to keep them out of the street, some of the costumes are bulky and have limited vision.
Expect to See Your Favorite Characters: There are 3200 participants in the parade, including a number of special guests and a full complement of superheroes, storm troopers and steampunks too. (Note: I had no idea what steampunks are, so I looked it up on wikipedia. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. I’ve seen these guys before and they are awesome!
Bring Provisions: Makes sure everyone is happy at parade time. Bring water and snacks to stay hydrated, fed and happy. If you get there at 8 am, it can be a long wait. To pass the time, head to the beginning of the parade and watch the characters milling around before the start.
Get into the spirit: If the kids have a cape or fairy wings, wear them, lots of folks dress up just to watch the parade. We found Elf on the street last year. This is a great time to get some milage out of that Halloween costume too.
Expect Parking to be Tough: In addition to Dragon Con, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game s at the Georgia Dome. The big decks on International or Baker near Williams/Spring may be good choices. If they’re full, you may have to park farther away and walk to the parade route. MARTA to Civic Center or Peachtree Center is also a good choice. Plan ahead.
Take Pictures: The parade breaks up in front of the Marriott Marquis, so if you want to try to catch somebody to get a picture that’s the place to do it. Most of the people in the parade made their own costumes, and they’re proud of them so they would be happy to take a picture with you and talk to you. Be sure to ask, and say thanks afterwards. (Beware that stormtrooper, he’s a little too proud (and sensitive) of his costume)
Stay for Lunch: Plan to stay Downtown and have lunch, walking around after the parade is some truly awesome people watching.
Prepare Small Children: Beware that some of the characters are very real and could scare young children. When my youngest was a toddler, he wasn’t too fond of the Klingons. To determine if this parade is for you, here’s a video from Field Trips with Sue of the Dragon Con Parade.
The Parade Route: The 2014 DragonCon Parade starts at West Peachtree Place near West Peachtree Street, and turns north (right) on Spring Street, east (right) on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, south (right) on Peachtree Street, east (left) on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north (left) on Peachtree Center Avenue. It will end on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street, in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.