Superheroes, Ewok village, villain dunk tank: RidgeCon roars again

Pikachu and friend enjoy the 2016 RidgeCon pop culture celebration at the Ridgefield Library.

Dressed in a Jurassic Park dinosaur costume, Adult Collection Specialist John Casiello turned heads as he waddled through the library pushing elevator buttons and searching book titles on the computer last week.

His adventure was captured on video for the library’s social media campaign and used to promote the third annual RidgeCon event taking place this weekend.

“It was absolutely hilarious,” said Kristina Lareau, head of the library’s Children’s Services Department. “It was the most ridiculous thing you could ever see in a library on a random Tuesday, and we captured it on video.

“It’s been fun figuring out what we’ve been doing for RidgeCon,” she added of the pop culture celebration taking place Friday, Aug. 11, and Saturday, Aug. 12.

Mary Rindfleisch, the library’s assistant director, told The Press RidgeCon attracts more than just children and teens. She also hopes it attracts more than just adults in Spock costumes.

“All of the above, in various combinations,” she said of the different demographics expected to attend Ridgefield’s version of ComicCon.

Expansion

This year’s festival does not have a specific theme.

“We started to go down that road, but what we really wanted to do was just celebrate what we felt people in town wanted to celebrate, and that makes it really hard to fit it into any central theme,” Casiello said. “People can come and celebrate their fandoms lots of different ways, and we can explore them in lots of different ways.”

The event consists of multiple themed activities, such as activities focused on Star Wars, Stranger Things, and Legos.

There will also be symphony video game orchestra concert and a question and answer discussion with a composer of video game music.

“We’ve been able to see which fandoms and which types of activities were most appealing to the audience,” Rindfleisch said. “Things that were more free-form were very popular in the past, and so we have progressively moved toward having more hands-on activities. For example, we’re going to have a station where kids can come and make superhero costumes. We’re going to have a stuffed-animal clinic.”

Planning

The planning committee is larger this year than it has been in previous years.

With a wider group of personalities collaborating and giving their input, RidgeCon’s cultural spectrum has broadened.

“Planning has become much easier and much more fun, because of all the people and the personalities involved.”

“We tend to share a lot of the roles. It’s just a lot of open discussion. It’s not like one person does one thing and another person does something else. We all contribute fairly equally and bring our specialties,” Casiello said. “We’re just trying to keep our pulse on what’s popular now and trying to keep up with them.”

“Collaborating together really brings out some ideas and perspectives that weren’t necessarily there before,” Lareau added. “And we definitely feed off each other, and it garners excitement among the committee, and it spreads out to the rest of the library as well.”

Rindfleisch acknowledged the event helps employees interact with each other in a very casual way,  

“And that allows them to use skills that may have little to do with their job descriptions,” she said.

The committee has come up with various new initiatives to promote RidgeCon, including an active social media campaign.

“We’re really trying to push this event with our social media. We have active Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts for the Ridgefield Library. In addition, we have a RidgeCon CT Facebook page, which we’re posting to every day, giving teasers and events and different things we’re doing,” Lareau said. “We also have been using #RidgeCon2017 for everything.”

Sharing with other towns

The Ridgefield Library has presented RidgeCon at various conferences with The Connecticut Library Association and New York ComicCon.

“We really got to see and talk to other librarians that were doing similar things. So we aren’t the only ones, but I think we are one of the few who have taken on the challenge and done it to this scale. And we do what we can to spread the word — we share a lot of resources and ideas with other libraries,” Caiello said. “RidgeCon is a lot of fun for us.”

According to Rindfleisch, seeing the reactions of the attendees is the best part of holding the event.

“We always have a handful of adults who are there dressed as Superman, or Captain America, or another hero,” she said. “These kids, they don’t quite have the distinction between fantasy and reality internalized yet, so they walk into the building, and they see somebody dressed as Spider-Man, and they think it’s the Spider-Man. Their eyes are so big and they’re so thrilled to take a picture with Spider-Man, and it’s really exciting.”

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