higgs_raccoon (higgs_raccoon) wrote in furrymedia,

Pittsburgh ready for Furries to flock

Dated July 8, here is an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the upcoming Anthrocon convention:


Restaurants will be selling food out of dog bowls and drinks with 36-inch straws (long enough to fit under a fur suit).

With Anthrocon opening Thursday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown businesses are preparing for the nearly 6,000 Furries expected to hit town through Sunday.

Baris Budak, owner of Pizza Parma and Fernando’s Cafe, stocks up on dog bowls and straws, hires as many temps as he can afford and orders ingredients by the truckload for the Furries’ favorite lasagna wrap.

“We start shopping two weeks before,” Mr. Budak said, “Even big companies like Coke will make an exception and do an extra delivery at night.”

Fernando’s Cafe has a special place in the hearts of Furries. Its original owner. Fernando DeCarvalho, became famous in the Anthro community after he was hit in the head with a brick while defending a Furry. Now a missionary in South America, Mr. DeCervalho left the cafe to Mr. Budak, who continues to welcome them each year and renames the cafe Furryland when the convention is in town.

Mr. Budak is not the only one to benefit from Anthrocon. Since the convention moved to Pittsburgh in 2006, it has brought in $39.6 million, according to Visit Pittsburgh. It’s expected to generate $5.7 million this year, $200,000 more than last year.

Hotels also prepare for the Furry invasion. “We expect that they travel with a lot of luggage, so we have extra carts to help them on the day of arrival,” said Tim Zugger, general manager at the Downtown DoubleTree, one of eight hotels hosting Anthrocon attendees.

Only about 20 percent of attendees don the full fur suit; many choose to wear ears, a tail or just a button with a picture of their anthropomorphic alter ego, said Anthrocon board member Karl Jorgensen of Leesburg, Va.. “For the most part it’s people who develop their own characters, and each character is unique to that person,” he explained. Characters can range from wolves to dragons to bears, and, for those who don’t want to wear a fur suit, there are artists at the convention who will draw their character for pins or for posting online.

In addition to Artists Alley and the Dealers Room, where Furry memorabilia can be purchased, the convention has events ranging from the Fur Suit Olympics to a comedy show called “Whose Lion Is It Anyway?” There are also workshops where Furries can hone their acting, drawing and writing skills.

A fur suit can cost thousands of dollars, especially if it’s customized with robotic parts like wiggling ears or blinking eyes. But it gets hot in Pittsburgh in July.

“It can be exhausting and stressful to be walking around in that costume for all that time,” Mr. Jorgensen said, “They need lots of water, so we provide a headless zone for them to cool down, relax, take their heads off, take a break and rest.”

When Anthrocon’s animals aren’t roaming Downtown streets, they might be found at one of several charity events. The board chooses a different local animal-related charity each year and collects donations through raffles, auctions and poker tournaments. Last year, Anthrocon donated more than $32,000 to The National Aviary, and this year, the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society will be the beneficiary.

Mr. Budak plans to set up a cooling station with fans and barrels of bottled water for his Furry customers. He also has themed shirts, hats and dog bowls to sell during the convention, and donates $1 from every item sold to Mr. DeCarvalho’s missionary work in South America. This year’s memorabilia features a graphic of the Earth with a tail and says: “Save the Earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate, pizza and furries.”
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