The 2010 Dragon*Con Parade: Wherein Atlanta Downtown Witnesses Their Masters in an Orderly Fashion in All Their Resplendent Glory

The crowds gathered early,  lining the sidewalks to witness a march of heroes and villains and spectacular examples of human and alien ingenuity. Waiting expectantly, gazing up and down the empty street, the energy in the air was ectoplasmic with excitement. Children clung to parents’ heads atop their shoulders to peer up and down the street. Numerous costumed individuals peppered the crowd, so much so that one could see plenty of heroes and villains just walking through the clustered spectators. A firetruck, siren blazing, drove back towards the front of the parade marchers . The crowd cheered. The first heroes of the day had just driven past. Soon, the aliens and monsters and soldiers and kings would arrive.

The parade was led by a ghost of glories past. A bagpipe player, white-haired and dressed in traditional garb of times long past, strolled ahead of the crowd, the sound of the pipes echoing through the concrete canyons of city buildings. The sound of the pipes was followed by veterans of wars both local and interstellar. Space Marines led aliens through the crowd. Despite the menace and posturing of the evil-looking aliens, no one was harmed.

Neal Adams was not far behind, riding in a most-excellent ’60s-era Batmobile. A crowd of heroes and villains followed–Jokers, Batman, Batwoman, X-Men–and plentiful evildoers  from various secret societies, including the Legion of Heroes, and The Society of Secret Identities. We were fortunate a truce between the various Batmen and Jokers and Two-Faces and X-Men was possible. Even more impressive was the combination of both Marvel and DC Universe heroes and villains, who normally do not have an opportunity to patrol the same city streets. Gumby, as well, was a surprise addition. (I was unable to locate Mr. Fantastic in the crowd and assume Gumby was a walk-on replacement.) Surprisingly tall, Gumby did look quite heroic with the early morning light striking his distinctive silhouette as if he were a living neon version of the skyscrapers that surrounded the parade.The Marching Abominables came soon after to terrify the crowd. Fortunately, the Seed & Feed marching band not only drove the demons away with their cheerful music, but brightened the mood after all that terror. The cheers they generated were probably the joyful sounds of people who had gone insane recovering their minds.

The fantastical armies of Middle Earth and Faerun were followed by Gil Gerard, who tried to rev up the crowd.  Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica came next, complete with a shimmering, old-school Cylon strolling stiffly down the lane.  Lady Gaga sent some of her body doubles, though they were separated from the Elvis clones. The Beatles made only a minimal appearance with the Fab Two, minus two members. Unsurprisingly, fairies were not far behind.

Though I was not able to confirm this with my own eyes, rumors suggest that someone was able to locate the infamously-difficult to locate Waldo. Apparently, he was in a red car, somewhere in the middle mass of the parade crowd.  Doctor Who could probably have found him. There were plenty of Doctors, along with plenty of companions and British-based heroes and villains. For some reason, none of the Doctors or companions were running.

Another of the more-impressive displays was the League of the Black Flag. The pirates could not sail their ship down main street. Thus, they pulled a ship behind a truck. They had plenty of pirate booty–candy, naturally–for the children. It was unsurprising the mood of the pirates was so happy and joyous, because they were fighting global warming. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, who was not far behind, would have been very pleased to see such an impressive display of pirates.

Sherrilyn Kenyon had a strong showing of support from her fans, complete with organized chants and a blood mobile to support her horde of vampires. Soon after, a demonic horde followed with one of the more impressive displays of the parade as evil monsters gathered behind the banner of Netherworld, unearthing a terrifying mantis-like beast to lead their infernal charge. The imps pranced with terrifying claws and hideous, deformed faces. The numerous cheers that resulted were–I suspect–actually the screams of individuals who had, upon witnessing the unholy monsters, lost all sanity. The menacing mantis-like demon paced onward, flanked by its hideous monstrosities.

The Steampunk groups included impressive gear and inventions which were difficult to gauge from a distance. Steampunk attire is so intricate, it is impossible to truly appreciate it without more time and a closer proximity to study the intricate leatherwork and gears. Fortunately, the Extraordinary Engines provided musical entertainment to make the crowd feel better about missing out on the opportunity to get up close with the elegant attire of the fabulous Victorian decadence.

In contrast, the evil, tribal followers of the post-apocalyptic dystopias of Mad Max menaced the crowd with their human hostages strapped to their hulking, gas-guzzling death machinery. The crowd was advised to stand well away from the boomerangs and to hide any gallons of gas they might be carrying.

The presence of Sparta was preceded by the joyful hoots and whistles of women, who were very pleased to see the Spartan warriors of 300. The belly dancers  not far behind didn’t receive quite the same greeting from the men of the crowd, probably because the men were rendered speechless by the lithe dancers with their hula hoops and hand cymbals.

The Society for Creative Anachronism led their leader in his mighty chariot. And, as an important reminder of his mortality, the group that followed were all red shirts from Star Trek, all ready to throw themselves in front of any blasters. Geordi LaForge’s rare eye condition was quite common among the red shirts, possibly because while having survived their first away mission, they had not done so unscathed.

Video game characters also had a strong showing. Halo costumes were intricate and visceral. Marios and princesses and Luigis and Zeldas and heroes and heroines from various Japanese games all strolled together down the street. No one jumped on anyone’s head, and there were no fireballs.

The loudest cheers from the crowd came first for the Ghostbusters. Georgia is a state with lots of history, which means lots of ghosts. The plentiful phalanx of Ghostbusters, with numerous vehicles ready to zoom to the rescue of anyone plagued by Civil War soldiers or Indian Burial Grounds, was welcomed by the cheering crowd.

The cheers for the Ghostbusters contingency was rivaled only by the arrival of a real, live Delorean. Everyone loves Deloreans, and it was unfortunate the weather was so good. If we could have gotten a single bolt of lightning on a single clock tower, we might have seen time travel happen. Never have so many people been so upset by such an otherwise lovely day.

Avatar: The Last Airbender drew quite a crowd of airbenders, firebenders, and other related characters, including Eng astride his mighty flying friend.

Klingons threatened the crowd next, shouting “Death to all humans!” while leading their captured slave children, pounding the drums of war.

Librarians mellowed the mood with their plentiful heroes of literature and books, including Harry Potter fans, ready to defend the street from any Death Eater attacks.

One of the biggest surprises in the parade was the appearance of Captain Planet. Once reviled as a silly hero, recent developments in the world have proven that Captain Planet is the superhero with perhaps the greatest mission in the world today. Back alley muggers pale in comparison to the threat of global warming and corporate and government pollution. Many of his former enemies walked shoulder-to-shoulder with Captain Planet, won over to the cause of saving the world in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

The 501st also had a strong showing, bookending the parade with bagpipes of their own from far into the cosmos to mirror the ancient piping of the ghosts that walked before them. There, at the end of the parade, but certainly not the least, George Lucas, in the flesh, strolled shoulder to shoulder with Mandalorians, Sith, Jedi, and all the heroes and villains he invented and popularized. Recruitment is clearly strong among the Mandalorians. They also seemed to ignore the general truce that other groups honored. Two Jedi had been captured and were led in chains ahead of them. The Jedi were clearly embarrassed to have been captured. They walked ashamed down the street, separated from their allies.

At first, Vader’s appearance was menacing and dreadful. However, like all good despots, he must have had his body doubles present to be ready for any Jedi or Mandalorian assassins. The Jedi swept up the street at the end of the parade, peaceful and zen-like and casually controlling the crowd with their lightsabers–obviouslycharismatic heroes. The entire crowd fell in step behind them, proud to follow after so many noble heroes of the galaxy.

Author of the article

Joseph McDermott writes for the video game industry by day, at Xaviant Software. At night, he writes fictions. His novels include Last Dragon, which was #6 on's Year's Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List for Debuts. Maze, his second novel, will be out in 2011, from Apex Books, along with Never Knew Another from Nightshade Books. If you see him scampering about the convention, offer him Peanut M&Ms, iced coffee, and high fives (because he is awesome!).

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