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alabaster

What are you most thankful for about Otakon?

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Impress me.

Between now and Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend, post a brief essay about why you are thankful for Otakon, or about something related to Otakon that you're thankful for.

I will read the entries and decide which one I like best. If I choose yours, I'll send you something interesting from my collection. And I'll write a post about how awesome you are.

This isn't an official Otakon thing -- it's just me cleaning out my spare room a bit. And I figure it'll be a bit of fun.

(One of the things that SOUNDS more fun than it is: getting swag. I wind up with all sorts of bizarre stuff -- small visiting gifts, cel phone hangers, stickers, keychains, magazines, product samples, etc. -- from guests or industry or people who want to suck up. Some of it's pretty awesome, some of it I keep, some of it I give to hard-working staffers. Some of it is junk, but often it's interesting junk! Most of it winds up being rolled into the general Otakon prize pile by the time the con rolls around. However, I found a bunch of stuff I'd forgotten about and I figure this will be a fun way to get rid of it.)

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Awwwww, I like this, But I hate sounding sappy XD

I'm thankful for Otakon because.....

Cons in general give you the opportunity to hang out with people who share the same interest. While some people experience that outside, it just doesn't compare to the atmosphere of a con. However, I feel Otakon offers more than the typical con. Not only does location play a part, but size, and of course, staff.

I love the location of Baltimore. I think there's nothing better than to smack subculture right in the middle of a big city XD But in all seriousness, it helps all the shops and restaurants in the area have access to even more business, if only for 3-4 days. Also, the citizens get to share in our experience, even if they don't like it. But when we act polite, we give con-goers a good name ;) And with such a large con, you get more people who will represent you well.

The size is also right up my alley. I actually prefer large cons, because not only do you get more people, you get larger events. With more people, you get to meet more, make more friends, see more cosplay, and indulge yourself in people-y goodness o_O More events also caters to more interests. With so many people, there are TONS of different panels, different showings, and of course, the large dealer's room and artists alley. My personal belief is that with more people and more space, you get a better experience. There's more for you to see and, well, it's just more fun with more things to do!

And I love the staff! Although I have seen a crazy staffer once, nobody's perfect. I know you guys are always working hard to get good guests, plan good events, and just make every year better. And nothing could make me happier than knowing that the one thing I look forward to every year isn't going to go away, but get better.

I truly love coming to Otakon, and like I said, it's what I look forward to every year. There's always something to do, (even when there isn't, just sitting around and watching the other cosplayers is fun) and Ota will always be my favorite con! So plan on me being there every year for....well, until I can't anymore :)

Thank you guys so much!!

This didn't have to be all organized, did it?

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Wow, this is interesting, I'm glad that I logged in today, haven't been on in a while. Here's my essay:

I am most thankful for Otakon because it's my local anime convention and that I've been a long time volunteer for the convention itself. I started going to Otakon in 2001 after a best friend of mine asked me in late 2000 if I've ever been to an anime convention before and I said no and she told me about Otakon and told me it was at the Baltimore Convention Center which was great for me because it's only 5-10 minutes away from where I live. So I got onto the website, printed out the pre-reg form and filled it out and send it in with a check for 2001. It was a very exciting time for me with a lot of great memories of me being at my very first anime con and seeing Pratt Street being totally flooded with con attendees having fun in the middle of Pratt Street. I then attended in 2002, had fun and had the honor of attending Otakon's 10th convention in 2003 which was great fun.

In early 2004, I then thought "Hmmm... How could I help out Otakon?" so I went onto the website and saw the word "gofer" and was like "Hmmm, what's this?" and clicked on it and saw that I could become a volunteer to help out Otakon and was very interested. Once pre-reg started in 2004, I filled the online form out and submitted it and filled out the form to become a gofer. At Otakon 2004, it was a very fun experience being a gofer for Otakon. I even had the memorable experience of attending a concert for the very first time at the 1st Mariner Arena (I never been there before Otakon 2004). 2005 rolled around and I attended 2005 and remained a gofer.

Then in 2006, I got an email stating I was invited to be a Totally Committed Gofer which was a pleasant surprise for me, I sent back that I would be interested in being one and I pre-regged for 2006. Had a lot of fun at 2006 and as a TCG. I attended 2007 as a regular attendee, decided to step down from being a TCG for a year due to personal reasons, had a lot of fun being a regular attendee for 2007. Then this past year rolled around, 2008, Otakon's 15th anniversary, so I decided that I would like to be a TCG again to help out Otakon in it's 15th year. I sent an email to Gofer Ops who accepted me again as a TCG, pre-regged for 2008. I attended Otakon 2008 which was my 8th consecutive year attending Otakon, had a lot of fun being a TCG. Even had the surprise from one of the staff members who I was gofering for tell me that I did such a great job that she would recommend me for staff for 2009. 2001, 2003, and 2008 so far has been very fun years for me and I am thankful for Otakon because of that.

I hope for 2009 that I will be able to attend Otakon again since I have a job now as security at Maryland's largest art museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, I will submit my vacation request for Otakon 2009 soon and hope it will be granted. I hope that I could be a TCG or staff for Otakon 2009, Otakon 2009 should be an exciting year for me since it will be in both the Baltimore Convention Center and the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel so this will be an interesting experience for me.

So basically I am most thankful for Otakon because it's my very first anime con that I ever attended and the full 8 consecutive years of fun memories and most thankful for being a member for Otakorp and being a gofer for Otakon. So thank you Otakon staff for the 8 full consecutive years of memories you have filled me with.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

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Here you go! Sorry it's so long, but it's from the bottom of my heart, guys. Just writing what I feel.

Why am I thankful for Otakon? Where do I begin? It’s an understatement when I say Otakon means the world to me. Not only was it my first convention, but it was also one of the most enthralling and fascinating experiences in my life to date. Before Otakon I’d remember the golden days of my childhood where I’d toss responsibility to the side and sit wide-eyed in front of the television watching Toonami. I’d then sigh sadly and think of those days as long-gone, knowing there was an unforgivable world I’d grown up into that didn’t take so kindly to such fascinations. I’d sacrificed who I was and what I’d loved to satisfy a dull, uneventful world. Otakon was like a form of rehabilitation for me; it helped me appreciate the child in me and enjoy the finer things in life again. It taught me that it’s okay to love a culture other than your own, to dream like you’re a kid again, to explore the worlds of the space cowboy and the giant mech. I got over what the world makes people to be and loved what made me happy, even if it danced in unison in school uniforms, or piloted enormous robots through space, or fired energy beams from their hands. It’s a gathering that cries, “Love what you want, and don’t be ashamed. We probably love it more.”

Very little of my gratitude for Otakon lies in my love for the event itself. To have upwards of twenty thousand people in one place at the same time takes hard work, planning, and many long days and sleepless nights of planning. Now, I may not know firsthand the intricacies involved with planning for the convention, but I believe Otakon to be nothing short of a miracle, and cannot be done by the work of any normal paid man. Rather, it is achieved by hundreds and hundreds of loving and determined souls who all strive to finely construct and orchestrate the spectacle that Otakon is. They plan for months and months, sacrificing their personal time and effort for you. They negotiate and pull strings to get only the best guests and performances for your enjoyment. They work hard with downtown hotels to generously decrease your lodging expenses during your stay. They do everything in their physical, emotional and mental power to bring you an event that’s many times bigger and better than it was before. And here’s the most incredible part of this whole thing. The one thing that will blow your mind and wonder how such a feat is endured year after year after year. These masses of all-caring and unconditionally persevering people aren’t paid a single penny for what they do. That’s right. They do it for you, and only you. They do it for the love of the culture, the art, and all the things you come to Otakon for. They do it because they love what you love and they want to share it with the world. And they do it all while expecting nothing in return.

Having said this, I’ve no choice but to be absolutely and insanely thankful for all of you, the staff, who do this for us. Some of us may be bratty, unruly, nay saying and sometimes just outright rude. Things get chaotic and fall apart at times. You sacrifice so much and sometimes things go awry, but still you choose to go at it year after year and somehow make it better than it ever has been. You truly only do it for us, and for what we love so much. I only wish more gratitude was shown for your hard work, and all I can offer are these words of kindness, when in fact you deserve so very much more. Thank you gofers, volunteers, staff, and all of you who have poured your very being into making Otakon what it is for me and so many thousands of people. You guys are heroes, and without you, I think I can say I just wouldn’t be the same. Thank you so much, and have a very happy holiday. See you at Otakon 2009!

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I'm Thankful for Otakon becauseI live in another country and I don't have those opportunities here, yet I felt welcomed on my first convention, it doesn't matter if we don't share the same language at the end, it brings us together. It doesn't matter if we like the same anime, or character. It gives us the opportunity to gather around and laugh about ourselves, unwind and be able to have fun at the same time.

It makes many dreams come true, we are able to meet and speak to people we admire, things that would be impossible in Japan due to their popularity and availability. Otakon brings the best artists from the industry and still all it asks is for us to return.

I'm glad Otakon exists because it makes me look forward to the next summer and is like a mid year Christmas, the wait for the guests, the thrill of the contests and the shock of being in front of those you always wanted but never thought would be able to dream.

So I thank for the moments and opportunities that come from hardwork and that even though we request more than what we give at the end I thank you. :)

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I am most thankful about Otakon is the opportunity to see guests and events that no other convention would (even Anime Expo). No other convention would bring in East Asian Fight coordinators, string quartets or Live Action Directors. It is because Otakon never thinks inside the box. They are the most innovative event in fandom by bringing in musical guests long before Expo or any other event did it.

Very few cons offer an HD Theater and before that the 35 mm theatre. This con gives people the chance to see films as they are meant to be seen on the movie screen. It is seeing events in an arena and panels that are done at Otakon (such as Black and white anime). It allows for the industry to talk to the fans in a different way than Anime Expo does.

I am also thankful for what I give as a TCG. Gofering gives people the chance to make the con happen. Gofers do alot of small things that make the con run. If there was no core of gofers, there would not be a well run Registration pickup on Thursday night or dozens of other things that make a convention happen.

Gofering at Otakon is one of the most rewarding experiences in my fannish life. The best run conventions in fandom have the best groups of gofer/volunteer corps involved. You see other convention staffers working in the gofer pool at this con because of their love of Otakon.

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Well, time for my cheesy little essay about "Togetherness" and how Otakon reunited some friendships and even in a strange enough way in my own mine earned me a new, special relationship.

I expected Otakon to be an event unlike any other in my life. I set the expectation bar way higher than it should be, lost countless nights of sleep planning for the event and simply dreaming about it, and even more hours of my life simply spreading the word of my happiness to those who, unfortunately, had to bear with me in those upcoming months. Yet these ridiculous expectations were not only met, but blown away to a level I never imagined possible. I am your garden variety "otaku." I'm quiet, antisocial at times, and vary in my opinions though I stand firm to them. Yet I was given an opportunity to be surrounded by people just like me, or opposite of me, and be judged entirely as equals. For all these experiences, and the wonderful staff who lead me through my first time and helped me every step of the way, I am thankful.

However, there are more important things this year to be thankful for. Things that I have to thank Otakon for having. Friendships. Old and new, expected and unexpected. I went to Otakon with two of my best friends, one from my hometown, and one from a thousand miles away from my old home. Otakon reunited me with them, rekindled our relationships, and introduced my two worlds to one another for the first time. We all had the times of our life. We created memories together, saw things we had never seen before, for better or for worse. We learned names and faces of which we were unfamiliar and created new heroes in our minds (Yuri Lowenthal, anyone?). We generated a sense of pride in the industry of which I can honestly say I had never felt before. All these things are things we had dreamed about, opportunities and experiences we talked of having together, but only Otakon was able to bring them to life.

Otakon didn't just reissue these old bonds and make them stronger than ever though. New bonds evolved from previously seeded ones in the grounds that Otakon provided to us. We had a fateful run in upon the pier with an old acquantince, now friend, from our home city. Upon running into him even more events began to unfold, including me texting his sister about our run in, another friend whom I regrettably hardly ever spoke with. All that had changed from that very point forward. The duration of the con was sending status updates to her, random facts and surprises we experienced at the Bandai panel, and learning how parallel her interests and mine ran. Within the day or so following Otakon, we have been an inseperable couple since. I hear stories of post-con blues as reality sets back in, yet I am one of the lucky few who just continued to ride Otakon's magical nimbus cloud as I enjoy the relationship the event had somehow delivered to me.

To this day I accredit Otakon's incredible powers and paradigm shifting abilities to this amazing relationship. Not only did it act as a source of fun and adventure for me and my friends, but it created an entirely new one unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It doesn't end there, either. That's the most magical part of it all. There is always more to come, more memories to created, and more to happen. One of our first discussions together was the planning of next years trip, and so the cycle has reset. New hotels were booked with additional members. New cosplays are being planned and provide the same numerous hours of lost sleep and anticipation once again, and new dreams of the experiences of a lifetime have begun to form once more. These situations were made entirely possible for the first time thanks to Otakon, and more importantly the people who run it.

Thank you, Otakon and everyone, industry or gofer, behinds the scenes or personal representatives, who made these delightful year-round experiences possible.

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Mine won't be so long.

I most thankful to otakon for being the one time of the year where I'm able to talk to people that know what the heck im talking about instead of being declared a japanese porn freak. Otakon, i also like to thank you for keeping me sane and destroying my wallet for the rest of the year, only to end up worrying about how im going to get all the merchandise on the plane with the smaller and smaller flight bag restrictions.

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I'm late. Oh well. I wanted to write something, anyway.

My very first Otakon was the very first year the convention came to the Baltimore Convention Center. A brief mention of it had appeared in the Baltimore Sun, which my father handed to me. He knew I was into DBZ and had tried to get me to explain the appeal of it time and again. So, with $50 in my pocket and a DBZ t-shirt on, I spend a Sunday in June wandering around an anime convention with my father.

Both of us were blown away. I don't think he expected to find more than five-hundred people in attendance, let alone in cosplay. He had brought a camera and wound up taking more pictures than I did. That was really cool to see :) The "wow" moment for me, however, was the sense of being *surrounded* by people with whom I had an instant connection. The feeling of community was something I had never experienced with anime. No one in school seemed to know anything about it, my friends had no interest, and yet, here I was in downtown Baltimore with a few thousand people who not only liked anime, but knew a whole lot more about it than I did. Yes, I was disheartened to find out that DBZ "wasn't cool" with the anime in-crowd, but the whole experience opened my eyes to a slew of stories I had never known existed.

My father and I didn't do much that day except wander around the dealer's room (which, in its infacy, was still larger than many other area cons. Or, perhaps that's only because I was young.) It's been 10 years since then, and every summer brings a new promise of a great convention. The group of people who tag along changes each year and even though the dates change, Otakon is my permanent, personal holiday.

Thank you, Otakon, for 10 summer weekends that are among my most cherished memories.

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