Otakon is one of the largest pop-culture conventions (and the largest anime convention) in our area. It is also our biggest convention when it comes to sign-ups! Otakon has consistently pulled attendance numbers of 28-33k attendees, many of whom are in our target demographic. Otakon hosts a large gaming hall in which many unusual, rare, or popular video and arcade games are available for free play to attendees. In this gaming hall, there are also small indie developers with booth space who are promoting their games. This is where our booth will be located.
This year, Otakon is moving to Washington, DC and will be held in the DC Convention Center. This is a significantly larger location with better public transit access than the Baltimore Convention Center, however since it will be their first year (and ours) in the new location, I cannot provide many details at 4 months out from the convention. Some standard volunteering guidelines will apply, and I have included them below. If this is a convention you would like to attend this year as a volunteer, please RSVP as soon as possible so we can plan staffing needs and get an appropriate number of badges from the Otakon team.
I am currently unaware of the total number of volunteer badges we will have available to us for this year. I will be working on this with my contact at Otakorp over the next month or so. For the time being, we will tentatively operate off of the following schedule, which is subject to change:
- 10 AM to 5 PM includes Booth Setup
- 11 AM to 6 PM
- 12 PM to 7 PM includes Booth Breakdown and lockup
- 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM includes Booth Setup
- 10 AM to 5 PM
- 12 PM to 7 PM
- 5 PM to 11 PM
- 7 PM to 1 AM includes Booth Breakdown and lockup
- 10 PM to 1 AM includes Booth Breakdown and lockup
- 10 AM to 2 PM includes Booth Setup
- 11 AM to 3 PM includes Booth Breakdown
PLEASE DO NOT TAKE YOUR CONVENTION BADGE HOME UNLESS OTHERWISE INSTRUCTED. These badges will likely need to be passed back and forth between volunteers throughout the weekend.
Please plan on parking 1 hour prior to your volunteering shift. Traffic in the city gets heavy in the late morning, particularly on Friday and Saturday. It may become harder to find a garage that is not full on Saturday or Sunday. If you are not staying at the convention late into the evening, it may be better to use public transit into the city. Please reference Google Maps to assist you in locating a parking garage close to the convention center.
Volunteers who will be driving to the convention will incur parking expenses. These parking expenses will not be reimbursed, however they can be written off at your end-of-year tax return as volunteer expenses. Please be sure to request a receipt if you use cash-paid event parking. Retain a copy of your receipts for your tax records.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center has its own Metro stop off of the Green and Yellow lines. Volunteers choosing to take transit who live closer to Baltimore or in the counties may be able to use the MARC train system for inexpensive and efficient transit into DC, where they can then transfer to Metro rail to their final destination or obtain other transit (i.e. bus, Uber, etc.). Please keep in mind that the MARC system runs on a very limited schedule compared to the DC Metro, and you will need to plan your trip and your transit according to your volunteer shift in such a way that you are able to get home successfully.
Otakon has created a guide to alternative transit options here: https://www.otakon.com/info/location/all-roads/
Volunteers who take public transit to the convention will incur transit expenses. These transit expenses will not be reimbursed, however they can be written off at your end-of-year tax return as volunteer expenses. Retain a copy of your receipts for your tax records.
ATTENDING PANELS, EVENTS, OR EXPLORING THE CONVENTION
At this time, we are not entirely sure if the industry badges provided by Otakon will allow normal access to panels and events. This section will be updated with further information as it becomes available.
During your volunteer shift (especially since coverage is going to be minimal), you are not permitted to use your badge to attend events or panels. You are expected to be present at the table and actively recruiting future Extra Life participants.
Before or after your volunteer shift, if your badge does not need to be handed off to another volunteer, you are welcome to explore the convention. All badges MUST be turned in to @Sarah before leaving the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. You may not attend off-site events, and you may not attend 18+ or hentai panels. Badge hand-offs will be coordinated via group text message. If you attend an event, please be sure to remove/conceal your Extra Life name badge.
Before, during, and after your shift — especially every minute that you wear that convention badge — you are representing Extra Life, Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and the Extra Life Baltimore Guild. Otakon has generously waived their fees for us in order to make it possible for us to attend and volunteer at this event, and it is a very successful convention for us. It is very important that we maintain a great relationship with the staff at Otakon so that we can continue to attend. Remember, you are representing a children's charity. None of us would judge you for attending cosplay burlesque , but you shouldn't be attending it using a badge donated for professional use. Use common sense, and check with @Sarah if you aren't sure if the panel or event you'd like to attend is appropriate.
To consider and plan out panels and events you'd like to attend, download the Guidebook app from Google Play or iTunes. This is a great resource for additional information about the convention (hours, directions, and updates).
LUNCHES AND POTTY BREAKS
If you need to take a quick bathroom break and you do not have backup coverage at the booth, please take any loose valuable items with you (i.e. laptops, tablets, cell phones). There will be a small lock box available in our booth as well. We have not been to the new location in DC yet, but it is likely that there will be bathrooms located in the gaming hall.
If you have backup coverage at the booth and need to leave to get food or take a bathroom break, please be courteous and let the other volunteer know that you are leaving the table.
Lines at the food vendors nearest the gaming hall are horrendous, and it is not practical to leave the convention to purchase food (trust me, the lines will be even worse at normal restaurants). Any food you may be able to purchase will be overpriced convention food. It is strongly suggested to pack a lunch if possible.
SIGNING UP TO VOLUNTEER
Please let us know when you can volunteer. I will update the event with confirmed volunteer names below the shifts they have agreed to work. We need one volunteer minimum per shift to start off with, however extra coverage during periods that there is a badge free would be appreciated! For additional details, please message @Sarah, @NodnarbDude or @Ceraph1216.
Volunteers will receive ongoing updates and instructions throughout the week and during the convention. Thanks so very much for donating your time and energy for the kids!
I will post additional transit resources closer to the date of the convention.