The famous Dragon Con Parade, perhaps the best-known event at the annual five-day pop culture, fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming convention, will return to Peachtree Street in 2021, but with significant changes made necessary by the current Covid pandemic.
Now in its 35th year, Dragon Con 2021 runs from Thursday, Sept. 2 to Monday, Sept. 6 with events and activities across five host hotels – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta – and AmericasMart Buildings #1 and #2.
Traditionally free and open to the public, the annual Dragon Con Parade usually offers the spectacle of thousands of cosplayers, young and old, dressed as their favorite pop culture characters marching down Peachtree Street. The Dragon Con Parade attracts as many as 75,000 spectators in some years.
This year, however, the Dragon Con Parade will be modified and scaled back. Not only will it be smaller than in past years, with fewer marching participants, spectators will not be allowed on the route. Only Dragon Con badge holders will be allowed to watch the parade in person.
Instead, CW69 will broadcast the parade (live at 10 a.m., with a rebroadcast ?) with additional feeds available on YouTube and other social media platforms. Fans who purchase a Dragon Con Goes Virtual membership ($10) will also have access to the parade through their subscription platform.
“It was important to bring back the tradition of the Dragon Con Parade as quickly as we could. It’s important to us and our fans, and to the whole city,” said Rachel Reeves, convention co-chair. “But, in the interest of public health, and in consultation with the City of Atlanta, we simply couldn’t allow the kinds of crowds we typically see.”
“We know it will be strange to have the Dragon Con Parade without thousands of kids lining the sidewalks, but the past two years have seen a lot of sensible-yet-disappointing decisions that prioritize public health over sentiment,” Reeves said. “This is just another one of those decisions.”
In addition to a scaled back parade, there will be no Saturday-only badge sales before the convention or during it. Saturday is always the convention’s busiest day. In addition, the hours immediately before and immediately after the parade have been the most popular times to purchase Saturday-only memberships, with the effect of swelling convention attendance to its largest numbers of the weekend.
Finally, all five host hotels plus AmericasMart will have stepped up security at all hours to ensure only Dragon Con badge holders will have access to the convention.