One of the things that excited me most about Dragon*Con this year was the fact that I was going to be in the parade. It happened in a rather slapdash fashion: someone on Reddit posted they had a Back to the Future group that had dropped out and his DeLorean needed some company. I make a yelping noise at my keyboard and immediately messaged the guy to say I was interested. A few week later, I found myself walking towards Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta for setup.
After wandering the grounds for a few minutes, snapping a few pictures of the other cars in the parade, I found the DeLorean and met up with the owner, Buddy, and his girlfriend Courtney. He proudly showed me his car and I eagerly took some pictures. Admittedly, Buddy’s DeLorean is the very definition of a project car. He bought it for a few thousand dollars and was building it a piece at a time. I tried not to feel spoiled by my friend Gary’s perfect car and appreciated the car for what it was: a lovingly crafted fan recreation of the greatest car in film history.
Three more parade walkers arrived shortly after I did. Brandon, another Marty with a hoverboard, was actually my inspiration for my costume. He’s been Marty every year I’ve been to D*C and my friend DeeDee even snapped a pic of him in the same getup at ComicCon this year. Two other Redditors were in the middle of their first Con and came in last-minute George McFly and Biff costumes. They also brought candy to give out to kids, which was a wonderful touch. Great people, all around, and soon it was time to get going.
Buddy told us shortly before the go sign that the car almost overheated on the way to the parade route. He said it should be fine and someone cracked a joke about having to push it like last year. I worried for a moment about what would happen of the DeLorean broke down in notorious fashion in the middle of the parade, but then realized A) it’s not my car and B) we would all have a great time anyway. The group in front of us moved forward and Buddy went to start the car. It wouldn’t start.
Buddy immediately hopped up and popped the hood; evidently, there was a cable that would come loose pretty regularly. D*C Parade Management started yelling at us that we had to move NOW or we were out. More scrambling and Buddy went to start; still no joy. We decided to give it a push, assisted by an Admiral Adama, and the car finally turned over. The parade attendees nearby let out a raucous cheer for our success as we rolled forward. The officials were very clear that we needed to leave the parade if the car wasn’t up to it; Buddy ensured them everything was fine now.
As we turned the corner onto the main road, I was floored by the sheer amount of people. I was walking to the front-right of the car and everyone else was behind the vehicle. I had a birds-eye view of folks and heard their cries of ‘Marty!’ ‘Wow, Back to the Future!’ ‘Is that a real DeLorean?’ ‘Hey McFly!’ and so on. Pictures were constantly being snapped; I smiled, waved, and showed what a wonderful time I was having. Every so often, I’d turn back and check on everyone else. The radiator was dripping a little, but the car seemed to be doing okay. Halfway through the parade, that changed.
Suddenly, the entire radiator dumped on the street and the engine started to smoke; Buddy turned off the motor. Thankfully, we were on a downhill and coasted rather effortlessly. Still, there were a few moments where Buddy had to restart the car to get some momentum. When that happened, the starter screeched and it was obvious the car was having problems. However, in true D*C fashion, as soon as it turned over, the whole crowd cheered in celebration. As we got to the end of the route, Buddy sped off down the street to get the car someplace safe. I laughed with my new friends and proceeded to enjoy a busy day at the Con.
It was a wonderful experience. I hope I get to do it again next year!