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Photo: Parka81 via Flickr.com

If you happen to find yourself near San Diego this weekend, you should drop by the San Diego Convention Center. Comic-Con, one of the largest and most original conventions of the year, starts today and lasts through Sunday.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that everyone has to dress up as superheroes, and that going in with “normal” clothes would put you out of place. That may have been true in the past, but Comic-Con has evolved into more of a meet-n-greet between comic aficionados, movie fans, and A-list celebrities.

Don’t expect a stuffy experience like other typical conventions either. Comic-Con is all about interaction, such as Q&As with the stars from summer blockbusters like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Expendables 2.”

Not an avid moviegoer? There’s still plenty to see at the hundreds of booths and smaller events for popular book series like George R.R. Martin‘s “A Song of Ice and Fire” or Seth Grahame-Smith’s popular novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”.

Photo: Parka81 via Flickr.com

But if you’re one of those aforementioned comic-book nerds, and you’re concerned that Comic-Con has lost its roots and become another glamorous, red-carpet Hollywood affair, you need not worry. Comic-Con is still a haven for those who avidly follow Spider-man, Batman, and even Aquaman. Whichever do-gooder (or evil nemesis) is your favorite, there will likely be a plethora of merchandise devoted to the classic comic book character. If you feel like going the extra mile to finally make your public appearance as Wonder Woman or Superman, this would be the place to do it. In fact, you’ll blend right in.

So whether out of simple curiosity, or because you love movies, books, shows, or just plain “nerding out” as the obscure Storm Trooper mentioned in issue #12 of “Star Wars“, you’re almost guaranteed to find something to enjoy—and interesting stories to tell your family and friends—at this one-of-a-kind gathering of unique-minded people.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Zoos across the country extend their hours in October for the annual Boo at the Zoo.

Typically, the nighttime event is designed for families and appeals to kids of all ages.

Check each zoo’s website for times and pricing information.

  • Palm Beach Zoo provides a safe place for kids to trick-or-treat. Young children enjoy face painting, sand art, storytelling, bounce house, games, crafts, and roving animal encounters. Don’t miss the Paws for a Cause Animal Art Expo, where you can buy one-of-a-kind-pieces created by the animals.  Boo at the Zoo is October 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, and 30.
  • Boo at the Zoo is a fundraiser for the zoo and the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, held October 21, 22, 28 and 29.  The Audubon Zoo‘s fun-filled night includes: trick-or-teat houses with candy, a Ghost Train, haunted houses (scary and non-scary), games with prizes, and entertainment.  The event is designed for children ages 12 and under.  A limited number of tickets are sold to keep the atmosphere relaxed.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo offers two spooky weekends of fun on October 22, 23, 29, and 30.  Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume, join the parade, and march around Bird Lake.  Take a stroll through the zoo’s not-so-scary Extinction Graveyard where you’ll be shocked to learn which animals could be extinct within 15 years.
  • Nebraska’s Lincoln Children’s Zoo hosts Boo at the Zoo every night from October 26 through the 30.  This “merry not scary” event provides 40 trick-or-treat stations.  The goodies are generously provided by local businesses.
  • The Milwaukee County Zoo on October 21 and 22 features carved illuminated pumpkins throughout the zoo, a musical light show, and a haystack maze.

Jim Twardowski, RN, is a travel writer based in New Orleans.


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