Halloween will come early Saturday in the form of Gainesville’s first National Cosplay Day.
The event will run from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Arcade Bar, located at 6 E. University Ave. There will be no entrance fee, but the venue restricts entrance to those 21 and under.
This is the second year the event has taken place nationally. There are gatherings taking place from Yakima, Washington, to Houston, Texas, to right here in Gainesville. Events are individually organized by community members and not by a larger national organization.
“Cosplay is a combination of the words costume and play,” said Logan Guidry, an organizer for the Gainesville event. “Cosplayers dress up as their favorite characters from anime, television shows, comic books, infomercials and movies.”
Guidry, 24, is known as Logan Glitterbomb to the cosplay community and works as a freelance writer.
There will be a costume contest judged by special guest cosplayer, Crystal Sorrow, who goes by the name of Doozer LaFae in the cosplay community.
The judges will select first and second place winners, as well as a fan favorite. Winners will receive graphic novels and gift cards donated by Wild Iris Books.
“We’re looking for image accuracy for known characters,” Sorrow said. “For original characters we’re looking for quality but also originality.”
Workmanship, creativity, overall concept and presentation are the primary criteria costumes will be reviewed with, she said.
Sorrow has been cosplaying since 2005 and is an administrator of Heroes United Against Cosplay Bullying.
Heroes United Against Cosplay Bullying is an organization founded in Gainesville by Erin McConnell, 45, known as JezzabellGem to the cosplay community. She shares podcasts and hosts panel discussions at conventions to discuss body negativity and provides advice to cosplayers who were bullied in regards to weight, race or sexual orientation.
“I started the page to create a safe space for cosplayers to feel like they had a protective community to feel safe and defend one another,” McConnell said.
Logan also worked on the event with members of the Hall of Justice podcast, which discusses fan culture and media through an intersectional feminist lens.
Guests at the event can play arcade games, dance, drink cosplay-themed drinks and participate in a cosplay photo shoot with a professional photographer.
“It’s an arcade, we don’t have to plan anything,” Guidry said. “People will show up in costume, play games and have a good time hanging out."