Dragon Con is known for its spectacular fan costuming and great guest lists, but it’s not always the first show you think of to take your kids to. In the past, there was on-site child care, but that’s been gone for several years. I’d still be reluctant to take very small children; partly due to admitted selfishness of wanting to be able to enjoy the con alone, but also because a wandering 5-year-old, tens of thousands of people in a small space, expensive handmade costumes, and too many shiny things to touch is a bad combination waiting to happen. But with the growing Kaleidoscope Track created for 9- to 13-year-olds, Dragon Con is an increasingly interesting place for your preteens.
Here are a few things you can look forward to in this year’s Kaleidoscope programming and other con events that are great for kids:
• The parade, of course! A highlight of the Dragon Con experience for many people, the parade starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, but you’ll want to be there early to get a good spot to see as many great costumes as possible.
• The first Kaleidoscope Track Book Club. Join author Bryan Young and illustrator Erin Kubinek to learn about and discuss the Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination. It was written by Young for his daughter Scout and illustrated by Kubinek.
• Build a robot. The Kell High School Robotics Team is hosting an on-site Lego® FIRST® Challenge where your kids can test their engineering skills by designing, building, and programming an autonomous robot with Lego technology.
• Get your groove on! This year, the Kaleidoscope Track will also host Dragon Con’s first Family Friendly Dance & Sing-a-Long with the theme “Everything is Awesome!”
• The second annual Geek Girls Run DragonCon Fun Run. On Friday morning, come costumed (or not) for a two-mile run to Olympic Park and back.
• Become a mad scientist. Take part in a dozen hands-on experiments during “The Science Power Hour!” on Sunday. Extract DNA from strawberries, find out if you’re a Predator or an Alien, launch soda-straw rockets, mix up some non-Newtonian fluids, and to top it all off, make ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Prefer to watch a mad scientist at work? Don’t miss Beakman Live with the always amazing Paul Zaloom.
• Check out puppet improv. Puppeteers from Sesame Street and The Jim Henson Company will put on an improvisational puppet show. But if your kid is more the sort to hold the puppet, there will also be a puppet-making workshop, which allows them to take home their own dragon puppets.
Since you’re probably not going to stick only to the kids’ programming, I will note that if you’re the more sensitive sort of parent, deeply concerned about the words your younglings hear… well, you’re probably not bringing them to Dragon Con. But just in case, remember that your and your kids’ favorite actors are humans who sometimes tell saucy stories, and you never know when you’re going to head for the dealers’ room, only to encounter a fairy in a thong. (Most of the more adult costuming stays to the night hours, but not always.) Relax, have fun, and remember that they probably have seen and heard stranger things from their friends anyway.
See you (and your kids!) next week!