It’s summertime, and that means beaches, barbecues, and if you’re a geek in the northern California area, cosplay. By that, I mean the NorCal Summer Cosplay Gathering, hosted by Bekalou at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo.
This was the largest gathering to date, with over 700 attendees. It’s become something of a running joke for attendees that it’s nearly a convention at this point, but even other conventions have begun to notice it; conventions like Kraken-Con and Japan Expo both pitched in with small fliers and contributions to the raffle.
The gathering also hosted a fabric swap on the side, organized by Timothy Malko. Those going to the gathering could drop off any spare fabric they had remaining from their own cosplay projects, and take any brought by other attendees in return to help with their upcoming projects.
As always, the organizers brought lots of snacks and drinks, along with hot dogs that were grilled by volunteers. The large quantity of food was made affordable by a $5 entrance fee from each attendee, but many could also pre-register before the event to get an extra raffle ticket.
The raffle itself offered some nice prizes, ranging from tickets to conventions such as PMX, or to the upcoming Halloween Cosplay Ball in San Francisco, to bags, t-shirts, and even a DVD. The tickets were given to attendees who pre-registered, as well as volunteers who helped run everything.
However, with such a large crowd, there was an occasional issue with garbage; occasionally a trash bag would fall over, scattering some of the soda cans or empty plates to the wind. Thankfully, most of the attendees were conscientious about it, and if they saw trash, they would pick it up and throw it out. It is understood that the park allowed the gathering to exist there, so taking care of it and not leaving a mess is important.
Coyote Point itself is a scenic park, with a small beach attached to it, which cosplayers took full advantage of, showing up in swimsuits or other light summer clothes. Many went dressed as the swimsuit-clad characters of “Free! Iwatobi Swim Club,” while others put a summer spin on existing characters, such as a gender-bent Teen Titans group.
But most noticeable among the beach-ready groups was the Disney swimsuit group, organized by Kimba Sprite Cosplay and using swimsuits made by the attendees and designed by her. There were over twenty ladies in the group, dressed in unique swimsuits based off the princesses they were cosplaying, with a few guys joining in as well.
Some cosplayers went all-out, like one brave soul who wore a Godzilla suit of his own making, while others liked to take it easy. For those who were cosplaying more recognizable characters, people at the park would occasionally stop and ask for pictures with them; there was a Stormtrooper who gained a lot of attention from people nearby, as well as a Dragonball Z group that posed for pictures with a few children, helping to make the day brighter for those who were just out for a day in the park.
In fact, the gathering even caught the attention of the nonprofit organization PLAYFWD, which will be hosting a charity “Walk and Run Event” this month. It extended an invitation for the gathering’s attendees to join, in their costumes, to help raise money to support children in Tibet and Kyrgyztan.
At the end of the day, the attendees helped clean the park and packed up, tired, somewhat burnt, but happy. The next gathering will be held in November, and will combine the usual Fall and Winter gatherings into one event. Over 300 people have already RSVP’d, with more to come soon.