June 23, 2013

PortConMaine celebrates the inner geek

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Benjamin Hollman stood transformed into his favorite video game character at the PortConMaine convention.

click image to enlarge

Coryn Armstrong of Cumberland, Sam Dow of Portland and Yuki Hall of Portland have a tea party during the final day of the PortConMaine festival at the Doubletree Hotel in South Portland on Sunday.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Hollman was dressed in black and white, and his face was obscured by what looked like a 3-foot-high, brimless stovepipe hat. Hollman, 18, of Kennebunk, said his fellow conventioneers immediately recognized his get-up.

“My character is called an elsen from a video game called Off. Every time my character gets scared, his head explodes into a tower of black something,” he explained.

Hollman was one of hundreds of people, largely under the age of 25,  dressed up as their favorite characters from movies, comic books and other pop culture genres milling through the halls of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel across from the Maine Mall in South Portland.

This year, a record 2,400 people attended the four-day festival, which concluded Sunday. Participants, who paid $40 at the door for a one-day pass, played games, listened to music, watched films and admired one another’s costumes.

An entire army of Ghostbusters rubbed shoulders with people who looked like they just walked off the set of the “Game of Thrones,” “Star Trek” or “Doctor Who.”

The whole idea, said Julie York, who co-chaired the event, is to embrace one’s own peculiar passion.
“If you like something geeky, we want you to have a place to celebrate,” York said.

Andrea Nakamura, 22, of Brunswick, a graduate student at the University of New England College of Pharmacy School, wandered around in a hand-knit white and red outfit based on the character Asuna in the Sword Art Online anime show. She said she isn’t drawn so much to Asuna as a character but she likes her look.

“And I have a lot of experience knitting,” Nakamura said.

Dressed as princess Merida from the Disney movie “Brave,” Yuki Hall of Portland threw a tea party for her friends and served cookies on a blanket she spread out in the middle of the convention lobby. A student at the University of Vermont, Hall said she has attended the convention five years in a row.
“This is a tradition. We do this every year,” Hall said.

Scott Witt of Portland was one of the few attendees not in costume.

“I feel a little bit weird, but you still feel welcome,” he said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at bquimby@pressherald.com

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