I was stumbling back to the Space Track in the Hilton Hotel, where my husband was part of the track staff, around midnight. I had attended the Mighty Fine Shindig, a Firefly themed party at the Weston. Suddenly I noticed that the man in front of me with the green face was shuffling even more than I was. Looking around, I realized I was in the midst of a line of people dressed as zombies. I wondered if they even realized I wasn't one of their crew.
These moments happen at DragonCon. Everywhere you look, there are ordinary people of all ages and sizes, from babes in arms to senior citizens and every age in between, mixed in with people with wings, people with animal ears and tails, Victorian ladies and gentlemen, anime characters, Storm Troopers, and robots. It's a wild extravaganza, and the thing that holds it all together is that practically everyone, no matter how tired, is having fun.
People come to DragonCon for many reasons. Some, like my husband and me, have been coming for many years and many, also like us, usually volunteer as staff. DragonCon is the largest volunteer-run convention of its kind, with only a handful of paid board members and everyone else doing it because we love the Con.
Others are obviously coming for the very first time, since the estimated attendee count this year was 55,000, around 10,000 more than last year.
Everything is different at DragonCon. For four days, time operates differently, too. Things like sleep and meal times happen whenever you can find time for them. It's good to try to get at least six hours of sleep, and those of us who have been around try to do that. But I think the girl we saw sleeping near the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature Track in the basement of the Hilton, curled up next to a post in the middle of the passageway with people moving all around her, probably forgot to sleep until she just dropped.
For me, food was an issue this year because I wanted to see so many panels and I didn't want to take time to go to the Con Suite, where director Joe Campbell and his staff were doing a great job of providing real free food for Con-goers. When I did eat, I ate about two meals a day there, including breakfast. We tried to get one substantial meal at the food court in the mall attached to the Hyatt by a walkway, and managed every day except Monday, when I didn't actually eat anything but protein bars until dinner time after the Con was over. I suggest bringing food with you in a backpack so you don't have to stop, although I admit I never take that advice myself.