May 26, 2019
Contest winner Joseph Montagna as an undead Pope greeting contest judge Princess Anna. (Paige Gibbs/The Collegian)

Superheroes take center stage at ‘Ohana Con’

What do Deadpool, Pikachu and Captain Marvel all have in common?

They were all in attendance at Fresno’s Ohana Comic Con Sunday afternoon.

Nearly 300 people of all ages gathered at the Ramada Inn on East Shaw Avenue for an afternoon of fun.

The convention, or “con,” was co-founded by a small video game store owner from Turlock who goes by the name Ziggy Star. “Ohana” in Hawaiian culture means “family,” a fitting name for the con organized by Star, his wife and their children.

“We wanted to create a place for nerds to come and feel like it’s OK to be a nerd,” Star said. Back in my day, we didn’t have that. Today, nerds and geeks rule the world.”

The highlight of the con and what draws the crowd is the cosplay (costume) contest, which was held outside this year. Ohana Con invites featured cosplayers to attend, interact with attendees and act as judges for the contest.

The featured cosplayers were Fresno Deadpools, a husband and wife cosplay duo, as well as Princess Anna from Disney’s “Frozen.”

Some crowd favorites included a family of Optimus Prime Transformers and a young Superwoman.

Following the success of its first year, Ohana Con will travel up and down the state, holding 40 conventions this year, Star said.

What makes Ohana Con different from other comic conventions is its affordability. Star has 17 grandchildren. It’s difficult to take his large family anywhere without spending too much, Star said.

General admission tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Children 12 years old and younger get in free. Group discounts are also available.

Fresno’s convention included over 20 vendors. Vendors sold miscellaneous fan apparel, vintage toys, handmade novelties, comics and collectibles.

First-place winner in the adult category and former Fresno City College student Joseph Pallares attended with his friends. He has attended conventions like Ohana Con for four years.

Conventions are a chance for him to showcase his original character costume inspired by “Doctor Who,” Pallares said. His cosplay called “Dimension Doctor” is complete with top hat, long coat and steampunk-style goggles.

The next Ohana Con will be held in Hanford on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit Ohana Comic Con’s Facebook page.

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