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Many conventions are being cancelled as a result of COVID-19. It is recommended you check the convention's website before making plans for attendance.

Anime-SPARK! 2012 - A Valentine's Con

Anime-SPARK! happened for the second year at the Clarion hotel in Cedar Rapids, bringing several hundred local fans together on the weekend after Valentine's day. Naturally this meant Anime-SPARK! was both an anime convention, and a place to meet new friends at convention events.
The con started with an opening ceremonies that featured a Dante battling live against Sephiroth to Skrillex's First of the Year. Opening ceremonies included some convention rules (like showering!) and introduction of special guests that included Quinton Flynn, Chris Rager, Aegis Swordsmanship Academy, gameshow host Greg Wicker, and formal dance teacher Jessie Eckles. It was quite an interesting lineup.

The biggest hits with attendees were the panels with Quinton Flynn and Chris Rager. The pair were hilarious together and attendees loved them. Quinton did his own Q&A as well as a Kingdom Hearts panel later on. Chris had a Q&A and a DBZ fan session.

Attendees were also excited about SPARK's formal ball, which featured formal dance music and professional lessons before it started. Lasting for two hours, the room was well filled for most of it (until people started leaving to change outfits for the rave later in the evening).

The video gaming room was pretty respectable for a small convention like SPARK. There were probably a little under 500 attendees at the convention, but there were six widescreen LCD TVs with game consoles, in addition to some regular TVs and several tables of card gaming. The convention also had a ConSuite which was giving away soda, rice, and ramen all weekend. The rice and free Mt. Dew seemed to be really popular.

One of the biggest draws and most attended events was Dante's Fabulous Date Auction. The room was packed with nearly two hundred fans, ready to bid on almost fifty 'dates'. Bidders bid real money on cosplayers, and the cosplayers were supposed to dance with their date at least once at the evening's formal ball. The cosplayers who sold for over $10 received a box of chocolates that they got to give to their dates as well, and others received flowers and Valentine's candy. Some of the more successful entries went for over $50, with almost none being sold for under $10. The crowd loved every minute, particularly with the two Dante hosts.

SPARK's attendees seemed to have loved the convention. I heard a complaint about the ConSuite being in a smaller room than last year, but I still liked getting unlimited free rice and soda all weekend after people only had to pay $35 to get in at the door (for the whole weekend, that's a bargain including all the great con events). Look forward to checking out next year!
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