May 02

POW! Parade of Wonders 2017

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments

Someone that grew up watching Mr. Dressup (and to date, still has their own tickle trunk full of costumes at home), I understood costumes and dressing up for fun, Halloween or a theme party. What I didn’t understand was the emotions, creativity and camaraderie I was about to experience at the 5th annual POW! Parade of Wonders

Rise and shine!

The morning of the parade started earlier than usual. I woke up at the unnatural time of 5:30 AM to be sure my camera was ready and I had enough layers of clothes to keep me warm. I arrived at 7:30 AM and of course, beat the anticipated masses of people coming to participate in and witness the parade. This was still far too early for the majority, but gave me a clean slate to start from with just a handful of volunteers, the organizer, a couple of VERY keen individuals in cosplay and myself.

As the morning brightened and the 8th Avenue warmed up, porta-potties were wrapped up in costume and transformed into “Potter-Potties”! There was a stall for each Hogwarts house: Griffyndor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin

At first there were just a few in costume and seemed random. Music from the Bass Bus started to blast loudly, announcing more cosplayers who literally danced their way up to the meeting point. The once few and random individuals soon multipied into masses, filtering themselves into genres of costumes: Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Anime, Video Games, Steam Punk, Cross Play, T.V. and Film. Name a genre-it was there!

Discovering community

I met and tagged along with a couple of photographers and quickly caught on to their way of working. We asked people to pose casually against a police car, point at their homemade communicator, or pose awkwardly for the perfect shot! We each scoped out our next shots and shared them with one another. My fear of of asking players and people to do things soon disappeared. They were more than happy to completely embrace their chosen alter ego and, ultimately, be a celebrity for a day.

The masses continued to grow and so did the sense of community. Players complimented each other on their creations and shared sewing and construction tips. They helped each other dress. They posed together. They laughed together. The “geeked out” together. This was a community!

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One Big Geek-Out!

It was nearing 10:30 AM and decided to make my way along the parade route to be closer to Olympic Plaza for the kickoff celebrations to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. As I walked eastward along 8th Avenue, the crowd of costumed people transitioned into lines of children and adults, looking eagerly in the direction I had just come from. I planted myself amongst the onlookers and waited for the groups of cosplay communities, which now formed the parade. I was no longer “behind” the scenes and felt the excitement that was vibrating around me.

As the parade flowed, so did my adrenaline! I felt pure excitement of parade, the camaraderie of the players, the waving of the celebrities, the joy on everyone’s faces as they funnelled into Olympic Plaza for the kickoff. The cosplayers and bystanders were now a blend of thousands of people. There were more hugs, more waves, more photos, more smiles, and more geeking-out!

So what did I take from this experience? 

Don’t be afraid to ask a question or for help. People are pretty willing to step up to the request whether it is posing, helping with a costume, sharing photography tips or something else.

Take a step outside your comfort zone. You might discover a whole new hobby or community that you want to explore and be a part of.

Explore your city more! There is always a ton of activities and events happening, especially downtown. One day you’ll come across a parade full of people in cosplay, the next, a block party and BBQ to kick off the summer, and the day after a farmer’s market on Stephen Avenue.

To see more pictures from the POW! Parade of Wonders (and live vicariously through the lens of a camera), visit Downtown Calgary’s Facebook page. To see what is happening in the days to come, visit the event Downtown Calgary Event Calendar.

Editor’s note: This post was written by Nicole MacDougall. If you would like to promote your Downtown business or event, please email [email protected]


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