For Pensacon, third time’s a charm with celebrities, parties and strong interest

Home Arts and Entertainment For Pensacon, third time’s a charm with celebrities, parties and strong interest
For Pensacon, third time’s a charm with celebrities, parties and strong interest

by Ben Sheffler Pensaconlogo

The third ever Pensacon has been a long time coming, but the Feb. 21-23 festivities could prove to be worth the wait. The event incorporates celebrity guests and memorabilia from many genres, including sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comics, anime and gaming.

“We’ve got a lot of guests coming in from a lot of different shows that are very popular,” said Mike Ensley, chairman of Pensacon.  “There’s a lot for everyone to do the whole weekend, and kids aren’t left out either.”

What started as a Facebook post by Ensley expressing his idea to “rent a hall, put on a small show and do a regular convention” has turned into a three day event that involves the Pensacola Bay Center, Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel and most of downtown Pensacola.

Within five minutes of the post, Ensley’s friend and local business owner Ben Galecki got on board, and the two went about coordinating a much bigger event than previously envisioned.

Friday’s Gallery Night, which includes “Star Trek,” “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones” theme parties, is sponsored by Pensacon. Eight more theme parties, including “The Walking Dead,” Playboy Bunny and “Star Wars,” are scheduled for Saturday night.

A “Star Wars” wedding, a $1000 first place costume contest and nerd speed dating also highlight the weekend.

The entire second floor of the Grand Hotel is reserved for those looking to play table-top games such as Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.

The bottom floor of the Bay Center will have over 30 different video game consoles, including the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

There’s a long list of celebrity guests that attendees will have a chance to meet, including comic book artist Neal Adams, who’s “probably one of the most influential comic book artists of all time,” according to Ensley.

“Star Wars,” “The Walking Dead” and “Battlestar Galactica” will each be represented by several celebrity guests.

There will be guest panels about drawing and writing comics, encouraging kids to read.

Ensley expects between 5,000 and 10,000 people to attend but said there’s no way of knowing, even though sales are “very strong.”

The first Pensacon was held in the late 1980’s at the Holiday Inn behind University Town Plaza, then University Mall. Ensley, who was just an eager participant back then, said there was one guest—Dave Dorman.

Dorman, who will be at this year’s event, is “probably the most famous ‘Star Wars’ artist in the world,” according to Ensley, although at that Holiday Inn his career hadn’t taken off yet.

Another attempt at a Pensacon occurred in the mid 1990’s, but it too didn’t catch on. The name, however, did.

“We really like the name because we really want to focus on this being for Pensacola,” Ensley said.

This latest version of Pensacon seems to have a much brighter future, as Ensley had a quick response when asked if it’s happening next year—“yes.”

Tickets can be purchased online at Pensacon’s website, A weekend pass is $75, while a single day pass is $30.

A full schedule of events, guests and other information is available on Pensacon’s website.