When whispers and rumors of Florida PolyCon’s return were first spreading last summer, there was great excitement. After all, it had been two full school years since the school had last hosted a convention due to Covid-19.

However, for those acquainted with event organization, there was also great anxiety. Like in past years, the convention’s organizers are all students. The difference this year was that many were tasked with recreating an event they themselves had never experienced. Even with the contributions and advice of previous organizers, alumni, and senior students, it was a tall order. Many were rightfully worried.

Despite everything, this year’s Florida PolyCon beat the odds. It didn’t just return as a successful recreation of past years’ FLPolyCons, it surpassed them. On paper, it’s the most successful convention at the school to date. Over 1600 attendees checked in to this year’s Florida PolyCon, surpassing the school’s prior conventions. Total event revenue came to $16,985.07.

Of course, success of an event is about more than its numbers; the experiences of attendees arguably matter far more. So, what exactly did attendees experience?

Most of Florida PolyCon 2022’s activities were concentrated at the IST, the heart of the campus. Rarely does the IST feel as lively as it does at a convention. Crowds surged through the halls from end to end, a constant and overwhelming flow of people. Along the banks of the flow were vendors, stocked with a wide range of comic and anime merchandise.

Walking through the convention, visitors’ eyes were pulled in every direction, darting between cosplayers, art, performers, souvenirs, speakers, games, and more. Vendors vied for the attention of potential customers, hoping to get more eyes focused on their large, almost intimidating displays of goods.

Scattered along the periphery are small rooms with more concentrated activities, which any other day would be classrooms. Some were home to intricate arts and crafts, like figurine painting. Others focused on more competitive (and cooperative) activities, like trading card games and super smash bros. Panelists spoke in detail on subjects such as Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars lore. One of the most popular side-rooms was the Maid Café, a place to drink, eat, and laugh with friends. What sets the Maid Café apart from a normal café is the waitresses in maid costumes, based on maid cafes from Japan.

Many students brought their families along, sharing their interests and Florida Poly’s culture with them. The convention is a unique event in that it’s one of the few events with the draw to bring more than just students.

While the IST was central, the convention’s activities spanned across a large part of the campus. Stepping outside, loud music reaches out across the campus, pulling in curious convention-goers to the concert tent. Live student performers cycled on and off the stage throughout the day, showcasing their talent and artistry.

A large line of food trucks occupied the space between the IST and the concert tent. Students got a free meal ticket for use at any of the food trucks. Many sat and ate by the water’s edge, hoping for a breeze to kick in on the hot spring day.

At the SDC’s athletic field, spectators in lawn chairs set up to watch a lacrosse game between Florida Polytechnic University and Florida Atlantic University. The game was hard fought, but ultimately ended in a hard loss for the home team.

Many smaller games and events dotted the campus. Near the Oak Grove, volunteers organized and conducted archery tag and laser tag games. Before and after the lacrosse game, the athletic field was host to bubble soccer and inflatable jousting. There was an arcade in the Wellness Center and a small pool party at the SDC’s pool, valuable for those escaping the heat.

Eventually, around 5 P.M., much of the convention’s celebrations came to a close. As fun as all the festivities were, there was a sense of relief as things wound down. Conventions are exhilarating and ultimately exhausting affairs for everyone involved. As attendees slowly whittled away, vendors began to pack up their stalls.

Students who live on campus went back to their dorms and took a breather. The campus became quiet once again – but the convention wasn’t quite over. After dark, the afterparty came alive. It was set up in the dining hall of the Wellness Center. It’s an official school afterparty, so there wasn’t alcohol, but it still managed to be a lively affair all the same with dancing, pulsing music, and a light show.

Florida PolyCon 2022 had its flaws, its faults, and even the occasional behind-the-scenes failure. Regardless, most participants, whether they were students, staff, family, faculty, volunteers, vendors, or administrators, came away with largely positive memories. Both by and not by the books, it seems that Florida PolyCon 2022 was a huge success.

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Ezekiel Huỳnh

Ezekiel Huynh is a Staff Writer and Editor for Layers Media whose photography can be found on Instagram at @ezhunh

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