PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Roses turned into the city of superheroes, villains and everything in between this weekend as Wizard World Comic Con came back to town.
Thousands of people were expected to attend the event that kicked off Friday at the Oregon Convention Center.
Wizard World celebrates various aspects of pop-culture including comics, cosplay and creativity and attracts fans of everything from Japanese anime to Hollywood blockbusters.
It also gives attendees the chance to cosplay their favorite characters, buy unique items from vendors and meet celebrities — for a fee.
Stars headlining this year’s event include Jason Momoa of “Aquaman,” Melissa Benoist of “Supergirl,” Alyson Hannigan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Richard Rankin of “Outlander” and Kato Kaelin of “Celebrity Big Brother.”
Dozens of special guests, including artists and authors, were also at Wizard World displaying and selling their wares and artistic works.
Attendees also had the chance to attend special discussions and classes held by local icons (like The Unipiper), YouTube sensations, filmmakers (including LAIKA) and more. There was even a class on Cosplay 101 and a speed dating session.
There was a little something for everyone. Gamers proved their mettle in public VR competitions while animal lovers got to meet real-life “dragons” from Creature Teachers.
Lightsabers and Jedis
For Corey Bruesch, director of a charitable organization called the Felucia Temple of the Saber Guild, Wizard World is a chance to meet people who may be interested in joining the “Star Wars”-based group that studies lightsabers and Jedi culture.
“Practice is open to anybody that can come and hang out with us and play with lightsabers,” said Bruesch. “And if you find yourself getting really into it, you can work with us and we’ll get you a costume and help you make your costume. We’re a LucasFilm-recognized organization so we have costuming standards that are pretty strict but that allows us to be officially affiliated with the Star Wars franchise.”
‘Nerd out with other nerds’
Many who attended this year have been to Wizard World before. The event offers many activities for all sorts of interests but the overwhelming consensus among returning attendees was that it simply provides a place where people who share similar interests can spend time together and enjoy themselves.
“Interacting with all of the other cosplayers and all the fans in the community — just getting a chance to nerd out with other nerds,” James Barrett, who was dressed as Mad-Eye Moody from “Harry Potter.”
That sentiment is also shared by celebrity guest and Wizard World MC Kato Kaelin.
“Portland people are fantastic… the friendliest people in the world,” said Kaelin.
Kaelin, who shot to fame in the 1990s for his role as a minor witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, was recently on the CBS show, “Celebrity Big Brother.”
“I did Celebrity Big Brother and since I’ve done that show my life has no longer just been a sound bite and I’ve had a chance for people to know me for those 24 days locked up,” said Kaelin. “Just the best experience for me to know that you can’t fool who you are when the camera is on you 24/7. The people have been great, they’re embracing me and I embrace them back.”
Portland hosts out-of-towners
Wizard World is also a chance for visiting celebrities to experience Portland, often for the first time. “Outlander” star Richard Rankin told KOIN 6 News that he thinks the city has a “lovely sense of self” and likened it to his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. Rankin’s visit to Portland was all thanks to Wizard World.
“I love Wizard World,” he said. “It’s a mixed bag, you meet all sorts of people.”
Keep Portland Weird
Of course, an event where people dress up and celebrate pop-culture wouldn’t be complete without Portland’s own bagpipe-playing, unicycle-riding celebrity, Brian Kidd — better known as The Unipiper.
Kidd recently launched a non-profit called Weird Portland United that aims to raise money for weird initiatives and to support people with unique ideas. He was at Wizard World to celebrate his work as the Unipiper and also to sign up new members to the organization.
“Keeping Portland weird is not a job I can do alone so I need all the help I can get and t his is a great place to find folks who are interested in doing just that,” said Kidd.
Wizard World runs through Sunday. Tickets start at $39.99. Photo ops and autographs can be purchased for additional fees.