This is the first year I’ve decided to volunteer for any big type of event and thankfully I chose the local Comic Con next to my home in Colorado Springs. The Altered Reality team started the first Comic Con in the Springs last year in August of 2016. At the time, many people had mixed feelings but liked the event enough to set up another venue this year. With the purchase of a much larger building, the Altered Reality team got to work setting up floor plans and inviting even larger names to the town, and they may have gained enough attention to rival their sister con in Denver Colorado.
From cosplayers to art and celebrities, there was a lot of chaos going on. As a volunteer, coordination was such a huge element. We communicated online with each other to get schedules figured out and found out there was no time to be shy; we simply had to get in and get started. On my first day, I utilized my “day off” since I wasn’t scheduled that day to look around and familiarize myself with the new location. There were many artists and vendors with goodies on display, all displaying some type of imagery from different fandoms. For example, since Michael Rooker was a celebrity guest, a lot of people chose to display their art of his character Yandu, form Guardians of the Galaxy. This was nice for kids and adults alike to have him sign. Star Wars also made a wave at this year’s event too, with a display to put together your own gadgets and pose in front of one of the backdrops to become part of one of various planets and show off your skills. With so many artists participating there was always opportunity to miss the more popular writers and artists while in the flow of patrons.
Day two came up so quickly and I was lucky enough to be a floater and wander the floor in order to relieve my peers from the celeb tables so they could keep our celebrity guests happy. I mostly got to work the front of the building and wrist band guests and welcome them to the event. Although this day was the busiest the event has ever seen; greeting everyone was an absolute highlight of being a volunteer. Being posted at the door also came with challenges such as what call to make when the ATMs suddenly go out due to internet issues. When questions like this came in, suddenly it was apparent what type of responsibilities volunteers got. We all became the information highway for all 20,000 plus guests and we had to know our stuff. Everything was trial and error as a newbie but I got to see many cosplayers just enjoying themselves. Happiness enveloped me too when I got to direct our excited guests to their favorite areas of interest, usually the celebrities.
By day three, my peers and I had devised a plan to float in certain areas to help each other in a more efficient way so I jumped out of bed early, arrived at the venue early, and got started. Did I mention this was also a few hours after the Super Trooper and Pauly Shore after party? Every guest in attendance, famous or not, was very tired! Regardless, we all got to our posts and on this day I worked the celebrity lines. Crowd control was probably the most stressful area and I was completely unprepared. I controlled the fans that wanted to see the following guests: Scott Willson, Jon Bernthal, Tom Payne, Michael Rooker, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Jon Kassir. So basically I helped out the Walking Dead team (mostly) but each individual had their unique requests. This was anything from price changes to when meet and greets happened, getting water, whether photos or not were allowed and who could come in the line (there are always a few issues). By the end of the day I was even scripting the instructions I was given to my peers too just out of habit. But also at the end of the day, the party and excitement was just beginning!
The ending of day three was bittersweet because a lot of us had made friends, met amazing people in general and still had so much to see. Lucky for us, the celebrity guests took some time out of their schedule to say hello and in some cases sign our shirt. This was interesting to me as a new person. Not everyone gets involved due to money issues but most of the celebrities go out of their way to put a smile on the face of the hard working volunteers too so I didn’t fight those that wanted to sign anything for me. Personally, I was just happy getting to say hello and maybe get a few hugs. I wanted each guest, celebrity or not, to feel appreciated and wanted. After the weekend I reminded our guests that we would like to have them back again to make and even bigger and brighter event. Hopefully this resonated with their agents and team that sat by their sides because I truly do hope everyone gets to come back, the smiles were totally worth everything.