The 'Roaring Twenty': Furries celebrate 20th anniversary of Anthrocon
June 30, 2016 12:00 AM
The furries gather for a group photo at their convention downtown in 2013.
By Alexis Book / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you walk into the Westin Convention Center hotel this weekend, you’ll be greeted by Westie: a 6-foot-tall West Highland terrier wearing a traditional Westin polo and casual blue jeans.
The anthropomorphic (human-like) cutout is one of many created by hotels across Pittsburgh to welcome the anticipated 6,000 furries who will be attending Anthrocon this year. Anthrocon, a convention for cartoon animal enthusiasts, celebrates its 20th anniversary at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, through Sunday. The festivities begin today at 6 p.m. and have attracted artists, writers and fursuit owners from across the globe.
Appropriately dubbed the “Roaring Twenty” this year’s four-day convention is jam-packed with activities, from fursuit construction workshops and Anthrocon art shows, to wine tastings and prose readings at midnight. And, of course, Pittsburghers are still welcome to attend Saturday’s “Fursuit Parade.” The parade, which is held outside the convention center, runs from 2-3:30 p.m. and features more than 1,000 fursuits in all different colors, sizes and patterns.
New to the fursuit scene is Mark Passerby, 51, of Bridgeport, W.Va., whose 9-year-old daughter, Aisha, introduced him to the fandom this past year. Disney’s “Zootopia” first pulled Aisha into the world of furries.
“She likes the idea of animals standing up and walking. ... I think animated films and video games have really gotten some of these kids into it,” Mr. Passerby said. “As far as I’ve seen it’s just creative people having fun doing something they enjoy.”
Mr. Passerby plans to surprise his daughter by joining her in wearing a fursuit during Anthrocon.
It is not uncommon for people to get wrapped up in the world of furries at a young age. In 2015, 10 percent of Anthrocon’s attendees were under age 19.
Kim Price, 20, first became a furries fan when she was around 16 years old.
“A friend told me about furries and I fell in love with them! My dad was able to take me to Anthrocon in 2014, but it was a last-minute decision and we got there late ...[and] last year we didn't have the finances to make it,” she said. “ So I'm really excited for this year.”
Ms. Price got her father involved once she realized just how devoted to furries she had become. While Mr. Price does not own a fursuit or have a ‘fursona’ alter ego, he still offers support and love to those in the community.
It is that same support and love that binds tens of thousands of furries worldwide, motivating them to spend thousands of dollars on fursuits, drive cross-country to Anthrocon and wait in the registration line for hours before finally entering the furry mecca that Pittsburgh has become.
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