Labor Day weekend means a lot of different things to different people. For some it’s the end of summer, for myself it’s the start of the college football season, but in 2011 over 40,000 people flocked to downtown Atlanta to be apart of one event…Dragon*Con.
When that many people converge on downtown Atlanta at one time, we all know what that means, traffic is going to be a nightmare! Add the Clemson v. Auburn football game, and Black Gay Pride, we are looking at a potential meltdown of downtown streets as we know it! Here are a few tips to get you through Labor Day weekend in downtown.
If you must venture out of your homes that weekend and want to avoid the Dragon*Con festivities, I would suggest staying away from Courtland Street west to Marietta Street and Edgewood Avenue north to Ralph McGill Boulevard. Those streets and surrounding hotels will be crawling with zombies, Trekkies, super heroes, and any other character your imagination can think of. Hell, I would just stay on the connecter and don’t get off until I passed Turner Field or the 10th/14th Street exits. If you must get around downtown via a car this weekend, remember these things. First, there will be an increased number of people out. Please be mindful of those pedestrians, because like it or not, in Georgia, they have the right-of-way. Second, parking lots will be full AND expensive. A normal $5.00 lot is going to run you anywhere from $15.00 to $20.00 for the day. Last but most importantly, please try not to get in an accident while you are looking at someone dressed up walking down the street. We all know you’re going to look because it’s human nature and it is not everyday you see Harry Potter trying to cast a spell on Yoda.
Being that it’s human nature and if you’re anything like me, you love some good people watching. This weekend is people watching GOLD. If you plan to come to Dragon*Con, I would suggest taking MARTA. It’s easy, cheap, and you can just follow everyone else so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. The best people watching occurs Saturday morning. Here’s what you do… you take MARTA and head down to the Peachtree Center station. You will want to make it up to Peachtree Street before 10am, because that’s when the annual Dragon*Con parade starts. You want to make sure you get there early to secure a good spot because both sides of the streets fill up fast with people who want to see the participants. The viewing area for the parade is along Peachtree Street and Baker Street, and in front of the Hilton on Courtland Street. The participants of the parade are also very interactive with the crowd so enjoy the fun and festivities.
Dragon*Con will be held in five hotels. That’s right people I said FIVE; the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, and the Westin Peachtree Plaza. After the parade, pick up your one, two, or three-day pass (that you purchased online or at the door for the day you want to attend) and walk around the hotel properties and look at the different costumes. Some people have spent anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars on their costumes. It’s like Toddlers & Tiaras, but for grown folks. The Georgia Dome will be hosting the chicken bowl that will go unnamed with Clemson and Auburn playing. Traffic and parking won’t be any easier around that area either. Downtown will be kind of chaotic on that Saturday, be warned!
So whether you are heading to downtown to visit Centennial Park or the Aquarium, going to a college football game, or about to join 40,000 of your friends for a good time at Dragon*Con remember there are many ways to navigate your way around downtown you just have to pick what is right for you.
Of course, there is also always the option of scouting your favorite local bar and just waiting for the Dragon*Con masses to invade. You are sure to see amazing costumes around town, all weekend long.