For over 30 years, I-CON has been a staple for Long Island’s nerd community. In the chill of the late March air legions of Jedi, Elves, Hobbits, Anime Characters, Super Heroes, Trekkies, and many others would descend on Stony Brook University’s sprawling campus. Growing up in a time before geek was chic, it was the only place on the island where we could be ourselves and feel accepted by a wonderful and supportive community.
Last year, March came and went with no I-CON for the first time since the 1980’s. Despite the complaints of a decline in programming, quality and a not so warm welcome from Stony Brook over the last few years, I-CON was always more than the sum of their guests and programming. It was the people who came together to celebrate what makes them special and unique. In my eyes the lifelong friendships and bonds with people we may only see once a year was the biggest draw. I was 14 when I went to my first I-CON back in 2000, and I remember how much I looked forward to that experience every year. I was less enthused over the last few years, joining in on the grumbling about lack of programming, guests and longing for the old days. I felt like I had outgrown I-CON and was planning on skipping last year anyway.
It wasn’t until about August that I realized I felt a little emptier than usual. The thrill of the upcoming Halloween season wasn’t hitting me as hard as it did in the past. Something felt wrong, off… there was a ‘disturbance in the Force’ if you will. And like the Grinch on the top of Mt. Crumpit I finally learned the true meaning of I-CON. It was the sense of community and belonging that drove me to these events. The celebrity guests are supposed to be sprinkles on the cake that is a Convention. Recently focus has turned away from the fans and on the guests. We have lost our way. For shame promoters and con goers, for shame!
LI-CON is going to be much smaller than the I-CONs we may remember, the guest list isn’t as impressive as some of the bigger, fancier cons out there and the dealer’s room will be much less sprawling than it has been in the past, but that’s not why I’m going. I am excited to make my annual pilgrimage to a place that made an awkward teenager feel at home. I am going to meet new friends and share in the joy of fandom with old ones. It’s the fans that make a con memorable, not the dealers or the guests. So grab your lightsaber, staff or broad sword and let’s breathe the spirit of I-CON back into this event! So Huzzah my fellow nerds and I will see you at LI-CON!
– L . Anna Lenz (Twitter @The_Apocalisa)
L Anna Lenz is an author and local nerd. Meet her at LI Con on March 29-30 at the Best Western Mill River Manor, 173 Sunrise Highway, Rockville Centre, NY 11570-4705!
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