DragonCon | Feature

Sean Chiplock | Logo

You can find out more about Dragon Con on their official websiteon Twitteron Facebookon Instagramon Pinterest, and on Discord

You can also buy a membership for next year’s Dragon Con here.

One of the biggest mantras about attending DragonCon is that you will never, ever, get to see and do everything because there is so much going on all the time, every day, from Thursday through Monday over Labor Day weekend. There are also so many inside jokes and references at DragonCon that you will never be able to keep track of them all, no matter how many years you go.

The fact that there is so much to do is why it took me 10 years (but only been covering it for oprainfall since 2015!) to finally put on an inflatable Carpetsaurus Rex costume and march in the Saturday morning DragonCon Parade as part of the Marriott Carpet group. Yes, there is a lot to unpack in that sentence, so let’s start with exactly WHAT the Marriott Carpet is, and what the DragonCon Parade is.

For a long time, whenever you would walk into the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel, one of five host hotels for DragonCon the event takes place in, a crazy carpet pattern of reds and blues and yellows would be there to welcome you. The Marriott Carpet pattern (anyone who goes to DragonCon will instantly know which pattern you’re talking about) is an incredibly loud, colorful, and complex pattern. That was, until 2015 when the carpet was unceremoniously ripped out and replaced. People who loved the design started a group, the “Cult of Marriott Carpet”, and started to put that design onto everything from flasks and dresses to reskinning cosplay in the Marriott Carpet theme. And against all odds, the fandom for this carpet pattern has only grown since then and they now have a regular spot of pride in the yearly DragonCon Parade.

DragonCon | Marriott Carpet
This 2014 photograph shows off the Marriott Carpet pattern. (Photo by DragonCon).

The yearly DragonCon Parade is a full on, honest-to-goodness Parade that takes place over 1.5 miles through the heart of Atlanta on the Saturday of DragonCon. Hundreds of people participate in everything from the various elements of the Periodic Table to driving geeked-out vehicles to – you guessed it – the Cult of the Marriott Carpet.

I have seen the parade several times while I have attended DragonCon, but I have never actually participated in it…and I was not planning on doing so until I saw a Facebook post in October 2022 asking who wants to be in on a new round of Carpetsaurus Rex inflatable costumes. A Carpetsaurus Rex is a regular Tyrannosaurus Rex, but with the famed Marriott carpet pattern for skin. I immediately bought into it without a second thought and registered to march with the Cult of the Marriott Carpet in the Parade.

Several months later, it is September 2023, and I have shown up at the 8:30 a.m. Saturday pre-parade meeting. There are more Carpetsaurus Rex people like me, there are cheerleaders who will lead people on either side of the parade route in Marriott Carpet chants, and there are cosplayers who have adapted their cosplay to show off the Marriott Carpet pattern. There were, in other words, quite a few people who showed up to express their love for a carpet pattern that has been gone for eight years now. We shuffle onto the transport bus to the staging area, and I am immediately greeted by a full-on marching band playing as soon as I get off the bus.

DragonCon | Practicing Band
The band warms up before the DragonCon Parade starts. (Photo by author).

We go to our designated area, and the first thing we do is sign the back of the Cult of the Marriott Carpet group banner. Each year, that year’s DragonCon Parade group signs the back of the group banner that we take turns carrying down the street, and it was really cool to see everyone that has gone before us. Soon afterwards though, it is time to suit up in our Carpetsaurus Rex costumes, and we find out that we will be going on after the Deadpool cosplayers group head out. They also have a Carpetsaurus Rex, but it has been doubly re-themed to be Deadpool as well!

DragonCon | Signing the Marriott Carpet banner.
Above, the Cult of Marriott Carpet Parade Group signs the banner. Below, groups are assembled and waiting for their turn to enter the parade. (Photos by author).

DragonCon | Waiting for Parade to Start

When I’m in the inflatable costume, I find myself extremely thankful for the water bottles that the Boy Scouts of America had previously handed us, my cooling towel, and my internal fan that was helping keep the costume inflated. I walk carefully – but confidently – down the street, and I can see THOUSANDS of people just lining the road and cheering us on amid chants of “MARRIOTT” and “CARPET” being led by the cheerleaders.

I bask in it all, and I do my best to help cheer and pump up the crowd by shimmying, by waving my arms, and even giving the best Carpetsaurus high fives that I can! I was sweaty, yes, but I was having the best time of my life.

DragonCon | Carpetsaurus Rex Costume
Me walking down the street in the DragonCon Parade as a Carpetsaurus Rex as part of the Cult of Marriott Carpet. (Photo taken by Lauren N.).

The mile-and-a-half distance feels like almost nothing, unfortunately, and it is over too soon as we head inside at the end of the parade route into, fittingly for our group, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Inside, I unzip my costume by the Walk of Fame and I drink down the rest of my water before we have a professional group photo taken to memorialize this year’s Cult of the Marriott Carpet group.

This Parade experience only took me 10 years to get around doing at DragonCon. And you know what? It is just one of many, many stories of what you can do.

Firefly Drinking Songs performance.
Only at DragonCon will you find Marc Gunn (one half of the Brobdingnagian Bards with Andrew McKee) and Mikey Mason sing songs about the long-departed show Firefly in a room that is completely filled up by die-hard fans. (Image taken by author).

Some people will sleep all day long and hit up all the dance parties at night until the very early hours of the morning. Other people will try to get as many ribbons to attach to their DragonCon badge as they can so they can participate in a contest to see who has the longest DragonCon ribbon chain at the end of the convention. And others will be sure to hit up every chance they can to see the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company perform live segments from their daily show Mercury: A Broadcast of Hope or, for the first time in 22 years, a live adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!

Ribbon Competition in the Hyatt
Above, various DragonCon attendees measure to see who has the longest ribbons dangling from the badge in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta from several floors up. Below, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company put on a live stage performance. (Photos taken by author).

DragonCon | Live performance of Mercury.

DragonCon is a convention like none other that takes place every single Labor Day weekend, and it is my favorite event to attend every year. Every fandom, from Firefly (complete with a drinking songs filk panel!) to amateur wrestling, to even obscure 1970’s anime will be celebrated there, and you will find someone who will recognize your cosplay no matter what it is and ask to take a picture.

ESPECIALLY if you theme it after the Marriott Carpet.

Did you go to DragonCon this year?

What do you think of the Marriott Carpet pattern?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.