by Alexis Lugo
Pensacon and cosplay enthusiasts livened up Gallery Night on Palafox Street on Feb. 21 with theme parties and costumes. Venues such as O’Riley’s, World of Beer and Emerald City hosted a “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones” and costume party, respectively.
As Gallery Night carried on with its trademark art, music and food, fans dressed as characters from “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Game of Thrones,” Marvel Comics and more roamed the streets.
Nolan DeWolfe, from Biloxi, Miss., has attended over 20 conventions and took part in dressing up for Pensacon. He and some of his friends—engineers, teachers and scientists—form a group called The Inebriated Lab, and they frequently travel to conventions but said they’ve never experienced something like the fun and friendly atmosphere of Gallery Night.
“About once every other month we come out to a con; we never see this,” DeWolfe said. “You don’t even see this is the big cities like Miami or Atlanta, not even New Orleans.”
DeWolfe spoke about the friendly atmosphere of Gallery Night and Pensacon and noted how much the local businesses were supporting the event.
“One aspect I liked about the con was that it was friendly. For their first attempt at a con, it’s very family-friendly; Pensacola was a very good host,” DeWolfe said. “Most other conventions along the Gulf Coast were mostly fan based. This one seems to be business based but very fan-friendly; they’re integrating the local fan community with the businesses.”
DeWolfe was also pleased with the strong line-up of Pensacon guests.
“Even though it’s their first year, they’ve brought a lot of talent that much larger cons have trouble getting a hold of,” DeWolfe said.
Ashley Jett Galecki, dressed as the Black Widow from Marvel Comics, was pleased with how Pensacon had started. Galecki is the wife of the local Kinematic Entertainment CEO Ben Galecki, who co-created Pensacon along with its chairman, Mike Ensley.
“For a first year, we are doing extremely well,” Galecki said. “My only change would be to have more food near the convention center. The civic center is very strict on what food we can eat; we would like more diversity.”
Galecki was walking around Palafox Street with Elva Osk, who was dressed as Leeloo from Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element.”
“My favorite part was the cosplay,” Osk said. “The kids create these outfits that are so realistic it’s almost unreal; I love the creativity.”
Osk has attended bigger conventions but said that Pensacola did an outstanding job hosting Pensacon.
“I went to Dragon Con [in Atlanta] last year, but I’m excited for this one because it’s in my hometown,” Osk said. “Compared to being the first one, I give [Pensacon] 10 stars out of 10. We have a very good town; it’s perfect for the convention.”
Alex Barton was dressed as a storm trooper from “Star Wars,” and he too has attended other conventions and thinks that Pensacola is doing a great job, despite the smaller size of the city.
“I have probably been to six or seven conventions. For the size of the city, Pensacon is doing pretty well,” Barton said. “I went to a Comic Con in Sacramento, and they did not do as good a job as Pensacola is doing.”
Pensacola resident Jonathan Sisk attended Pensacon on Friday, his first convention, and said that the city did extremely well for hosting its first convention.
“Overall, it was pretty good. I’m really excited about [Saturday] and Sunday,” Sisk said. “Pensacola is very unique, so I think [interest] will pick up over the next couple of days.”
While Sunday’s attendance might’ve taken a hit because of the rain, interest in Pensacon surely increased throughout the city, with more than 10,000 people attending on Saturday, according to Ensley.