The Sporting Life: 35th Annual Dragon Con Edition

Genelle Williams and Cass Teague at a past Dragon Con. (photo by Genelle Williams)

Dragon Con, Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming convention, attracted 42,000 attendees for the five-day celebration and raised more than $120,000 for its official 2021 charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Despite the smaller attendance, fans still came from all 50 states and a handful foreign countries, including Canada, Australia and western European nations.

Some of this year’s top guests included cultural icon William Shatner, Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos, Sonequa Martin-Green, Meagan Tandy, Laz Alonso, Jessie T. Usher, Ricky Whittle, along with a host of other celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, comics, literature, and gaming were on hand to greet fans, lead discussions, and sign autographs during this year’s convention.

For fans like me who were not comfortable attending a live convention, Dragon Con Goes Virtual, a live-streamed version of the convention, attracted 22,000 viewers. The $10 subscription, good through June 1, 2022, includes live convention coverage as well as exclusive pre-recorded content and highlights from past conventions that fans can enjoy from the comfort of their own home in the company of close friends and family. You can still buy one and see what you missed.

“This year’s convention was wonderful. It was certainly a little different, as we implemented a number of changes to help protect our fans and reduce the spread of COVID,” convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said. “More than anything, in these times, we were delighted to bring our fans together so they could celebrate the things they love, connect with friends, and forget about the outside world for a few days.”

In response to the ongoing COVID pandemic, Dragon Con implemented a series of protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID, including a requirement that all attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arriving at the convention in order to pick up their badges. Other changes included requiring all fans to wear masks while inside a convention venue and only badge-holding Dragon Con members were allowed to watch this year’s Dragon Con Parade from sidewalks along the parade route.

“We are especially proud of our community of fans, who stepped up and followed the health and safety protocols for the whole five days,” Reeves said.

LifeSouth, which has organized the convention’s annual Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive since 2002, held another successful drive. This year, some 2,200 donors, including a record 40 percent of whom were first time blood donors. The annual drive – consistently ranked as the largest convention-based blood drive – benefits LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.

Dragon Con will return in 2022 for the five-day Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1 to Sept. 5.

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