The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo entered its ninth year with a nerdy four-day bang that still resonates through the halls of Calgary’s Stampede grounds.
This event is very unique compared to the others that come through the city – Sure we have the quirky steampunk, electro-junkies of “Beakerhead,” the sparkly Michelin Star “The Big Taste” that serves up crazy-good food endlessly for a few weeks downtown, and of course the Calgary Stampede, the greatest outdoor show on earth for over a century, but any expo that starts out with a parade of Stormtroopers, Zombies and Hobbits is a hands-down win in my book.
The Calgary Expo is a unique four-day event that invites a diverse group of people to let loose and express what they love to the universe without judgement, haste or hurt-feelings. From media guests, artists, creators, horror guests, cartoon and animation stars, anime and manga enthusiasts, and even guests and content geared towards little ones makes its way to the Calgary Expo. We could not believe some of the dedication and hard work that was put into costumes and makeup – and one of the busiest booths in the main hall? The costume repair guys who had everything from glittery-gold duct tape to spare eyeballs.
Along with the attendees and halls packed with exhibitors, photographers, merchants, and LAN-Party tables, we opted to experience some of the many panels offered. We stuck with the headliners including Barry Bostwick, Vivica A. Fox, Anthony Daniels, as well as the marquee guests of Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and Aliens. There was also opportunity to sign up for geek speed-dating, a costume contest, a quick Toastmasters session, or even a how-to-perfect-your-comic-book-drawing-skills course; the options were endless with always something to go check out. We packed our schedule each of the four days, and never found ourselves standing still or wondering what would be next.
The Parade Of Wonders (POW!):
Again. Stormtroopers. There were literally hundreds of parade participants from all different movies, comics, T.V. shows and games in full gear and character. We got to the starting point an hour early to wander through the groups and get some wicked pictures. Accosted by aliens? Check. A legendary picture of knights in practice? Double check. We were even in the right place at the right time and bumped into Anthony Daniels (yeah, I touched him), and Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary who was marshalling the parade.
You know when you think about meeting a celebrity and you tell yourself, “I can do this – cool as a cucumber,” and then you actually meet them, accidentally drool on yourself, and end up grunting in some alien language? That happened. Good thing my photographer was able to keep it together and both Anthony and Nenshi posed elegantly for pictures.
Taking off from the riverfront at 11 a.m., the parade snaked through the downtown core and shopping district, attracting thousands of spectators, eventually ending up at Olympic Plaza (just a few jumps to the Stampede Grounds) for the opening ceremonies. All of the special guests were introduced, and the ceremonies were concluded with a fairy-tale ending. Prince Charming proposed to his Cinderella right on stage – thankfully she said yes. Although we were lacking on little yellow birds and fairy dust, it still brought a tear to my eyeball.