Pittsburgh is going to the dogs. And cats and unicorns and other fantastic creatures.
Anthrocon returns to Pittsburgh on Thursday, and the gathering of thousands of fursuiters, or "furries" – people who wear anthropomorphic animal costumes – is becoming a highlight on Pittsburgh's convention calendar.
This is the 14th year the largest gathering of furries in the U.S. will be held in the Steel City, and residents look forward to their arrival more and more every year.
Here are eight things you need to know about Anthrocon 2019:
- Fursuiters come from all walks of life and many travel across the country for the convention. Nearly 7,000 people attended in 2017.
- Some suits can cost thousands of dollars, depending on their uniqueness and how elaborately they're made. The design and creation of suits is a cottage industry, and practitioners make their way to the convention to hold seminars and meet clients.
- Fursuiters often create alter egos and names for their suited selves, and sometimes stick to character so closely that they won't speak while in their suits. Many wear badges that list their chosen names.
- The convention is held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and the adjoining Westin hotel is usually booked solid with attendees. Since no one is allowed into the convention itself without a pass, the stretch of 10th Street between Penn and Liberty avenues is ground zero for furry-watching.
- Businesses in that area have grown to recognize the economic weight the convention can swing, with estimates that the convention can bring more than $6 million to the city during its four-day stay. Savvy entrepreneurs have learned to cater to fursuiters, from offering meals in dog bowls to offering "Furryoke" nights.
- In the last few years, Anthrocon began holding its Fursuit Parade outdoors as the city embraced the gathering. Pittsburghers are welcome to watch the parade featuring hundreds of furries, which will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday outside the south end of the convention center on 10th Street.
- The warm reception for the parade has led to the creation of a "meet and greet" session in the convention center, where Pittsburghers are allowed into Hall D to interact with fursuiters. That session begins right after the parade.
- Furries are usually happy to interact with the public and pose for photos when asked politely. It's not uncommon to see them grabbing a beverage (it can get hot inside the suits in July) at Bill's Bar and Burger in the Westin, across the street at Condado Tacos or Ten Penny or elsewhere downtown.
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