For those of you who might not have stood in line for two hours with a screaming child, breathing the exhaust of the cars flying through the underground structure, only to be informed that despite pre-paying for tickets for your entire family, you weren’t going to be allowed entrance because the Colorado Convention Center had reached capacity, here’s what you missed:
Nearly 50,000 fans, mostly costumed, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in narrow aisles between countless vendor stands and few actual exhibitions. A main hall bereft of anything resembling airflow and quite possibly some of the worst pizza I’ve ever eaten. And an event staff so woefully unprepared for the turnout that I’m surprised any of them came back after the first day. To be blunt, it was a disaster of unprecedented proportions.
But my kids couldn’t have had a better time. After a rather auspicious start, I had a blast, too.
I saw some of the best and some of the worst that humanity has to offer. In all, I saw nearly 50,000 people committed to the perpetuation of literature and art, gathered in the spirit of fun and excitement, to celebrate a medium I feel encourages literacy in our youth more than any other. And then I saw people shouting at the volunteer staff, abusing them, threatening to sue or inflict bodily harm if they weren’t compensated for their wasted time. And it made me sad. This was a charity convention designed to raise money for a non-profit organization called Comic Book Classroom, which runs literacy and arts programs for 5th through 8th graders. The staff were volunteers who invested their time and energy into making the convention as enjoyable as it could be, even though they had to miss out on all of the fun. And how were they rewarded? By being kicked around and treated like garbage by a subset of the population I have a hunch might actually know what that feels like.
To the volunteers who put on the show…thank you. (To the yellow-shirted guy in the sales booth…thanks for trying to get my money back when it looked like we weren’t going to get into the con. You’re a trooper.) Your efforts matter and your enthusiasm is absolutely awesome. Hold your heads high, kids.