Step right up folks, and marvel at the curious cultural carnival that is… Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! You thought the “City of Bridges” was only known for the rippling muscles of its steel industry or its sports teams that tackle harder than a bear after its honey? Or perhaps, you’ve heard tales of a sandwich that could be mistaken for a mini-mountain, brimming with coleslaw and fries? Oh, dear reader, you’re in for a surprise.
This shining city on a hill, or rather, a river, has an extra feather in its cap…and it’s a rather furry one. That’s right, folks, Pittsburgh is the pulse-pounding pinnacle of the planet’s… drum roll… furries! Each year, hordes of people who’ve taken the phrase “party animal” a tad too literally gather in the city for Anthrocon, a jamboree that has the distinction of being one of the world’s most oversized furry conventions.
Just to be clear, when we say furries, we’re not talking about folks who have a fondness for fluffy kittens. These are people who take anthropomorphism – giving human characteristics to animals – to new heights, or rather, species. It’s a wild community that congregates over their shared love of anthropomorphic media, friendship, and social inclusion. Imagine a fun house full of personable porcupines, witty wolves, and gregarious giraffes…or whatever fursona tickles your fancy.
The Anthrocon shindig goes on for four days and has been making Pittsburgh furrier since 2006. Aspiring anthropomorphic aficionados from across the nation attend sessions that would make a Broadway costume department green with envy. Topics include crafting your own fursuit, escaping rooms (I mean, how do you do that with a tail?), cutting a rug at dance parties, flexing creative muscles at writing workshops, and attending art shows. And don’t sweat it if you’re not keen to be wrapped up in faux-fur – everyone is welcome to the party!
The true pièce de résistance of Anthrocon, however, is the Fursuit Parade. It’s like Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but with less turkey and more otters, beavers, and whatever else crawls, flies, or swims in your imagination. But the furry festivities don’t stop there, there’s also the Anthrocon Block Party on Penn Avenue for those looking to get their groove on in the great outdoors.
Now, as much fun as it is to prance about in a lion suit, it’s not all fun and games being a furry in Pittsburgh. The lavish lifestyle of a “high dollar member” of Anthrocon can dig deep into your pockets. You have to consider your furry rank, transportation, and the price tag on those fabulous fursuits – which can range from $3,000 to $5,000. (I know, right? Who knew a gorilla suit could cost as much as a used car?)
But why, you ask, do these furries flock to Pittsburgh year after year? Simply put, it’s about friendship, camaraderie, and maybe even finding a lifelong pawtner. As one dog put it, “I never imagined that dressing up as a giant animal would bring me somebody that I would love forever.”