Dragon Con: Atlanta’s Not-So-Obvious Jewish Festival

Dragon Con: Atlanta’s Not-So-Obvious Jewish Festival

By Cliff Weiss and Gabriel Weiss

Everyone knows Dragon Con means geeks and nerds parading around downtown in costume (and sometimes not enough costume). The five-day gathering over Labor Day weekend drew more than 70,000 paid attendees this year, up by approximately 5,000 from last year, and packed hotels and restaurants downtown without bringing crime or other problems.

A less obvious aspect of the convention is its focus on American Jews in science and science fiction.

Central to Marvel’s Avengers, Ironman powers his way through the parade.
Central to Marvel’s Avengers, Ironman powers his way through the parade.

Many events, of course, discuss the superheroes and villains created by such Jews as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Joel Simon and Steven Spielberg, but other events address the contributions of Jewish scientists including Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Feynman.

This year’s convention included programs on “The Science and Predictions of ‘Back to the Future’ ”; “Fission, Fusion and other Energy Sources”; “Relativity Is Practical”; “Connecting Brains and Computers”; “Cryonics”; and “The Year in Science.” Dragon Con is a fun way to get your kids interested in math and science while taking pride in the major contributions Jews have made to science and science fiction.

After the death Feb. 27 of Leonard Nimoy, the Jewish actor who made the hamsa famous as the Vulcan greeting, a special event honored him. For many fans, Nimoy’s Spock was both the epitome of and the inspiration for much modern science fiction.

The most popular program was the Dragon Con night at the Georgia Aquarium. Not only did the event sell out, but thousands of people had to be turned away because of fire regulations. Already known as a prime venue for special events, the aquarium also proved to be a place for Aquaman to reign supreme.

Every year, Dragon Con selects a local charity to support. Past beneficiaries have included the Marcus Autism Center, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Georgia Conservancy and Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. Dragon Con this year raised over $100,000 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

In addition, the convention is the most successful blood drive that LifeSouth holds all year — collecting more than 7,000 pints of blood. No wonder so many vampires hang around Dragon Con.

Above Photos by Cliff Weiss and Gabriel Weiss

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