It’s a sure sign of summer in Pittsburgh: The furries are coming.
From Thursday, July 5 to Sunday, July 8, thousands will celebrate everything anthropomorphics (a.k.a humanlike animal characters).
The most visible attendees are fursuiters, who wear either a full fur suit or at least a head with other pieces like paws and a tail. This year’s theme is movie monsters, so be on the lookout for added costume details.
Fursuiters, though, are only about 20 percent of attendees, Sam Conway, convention chairperson and Anthrocon CEO, told The Incline.
Furries include artists, writers, performers and anyone involved in bringing cartoon animals to life, whether that’s professionally or as a hobby, he said. Some just wear human clothes.
The Incline chatted with Conway for need-to-know tips, whether you’re a furry, a yinzer — or both.
Don’t miss the parade
While you’ll likely get glimpses of fursuiters throughout the weekend, the parade is the biggest opportunity for non-attendees to see them in one place.
Sometimes described as “a walking art show,” Conway said the parade is full of enthusiasm and energy from the crowd.
It starts around 2 p.m. Saturday, July 7 with the outdoor portion of the parade going from the the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s East Lobby down 10th Street to French Street and back up 10th to the West Lobby, which is near a public meet-and-greet.
Meet and greet
Keep your eyes on the rivers between 2-3 pm. and 7-8 p.m. Thursday, when fursuiters will be aboard the Gateway Clipper.
Downtown workers on their lunch breaks and conference attendees will also unofficially meet Friday afternoon, Conway said, adding that fursuiters generally don’t stray far from the convention because they need water and a place to cool down. That said, Point State Park fountain is a popular photo spot.
Furries also have a few favorite restaurants Downtown, too.
While the parade is a great time to see more than 1,000 fursuiters at once, it’s not a great time to chat with them or take photos. Due to the heat, the parade needs to keep moving, Conway said, so last year, Anthrocon added a meet and greet following the parade, and the event is back for its second year. From 3-5 p.m. Saturday, July 7 Pittsburghers can meet fursuiters and take photos in the convention center’s Hall D (on the ground level on the west side of 10th Street).
Day passes are $35 for Friday and Saturday, July 7 or $30 for Sunday, July 8 if you want to join in.
Anthrocon also offers multiple ways to give back to Pittsburgh.
On Saturday, July 7, there will be a blood drive during the parade and after. It’s an annual tradition that non-attendees can join too, Conway said.
The convention’s organizers also select a charity to support each year. They try to keep it local and animal-related, with fundraising being a keystone of Anthrocon. The conference has raised more than $300,000 for various charities, Conway said.
This year, Anthrocon will have a silent auction to benefit South Hills Pet Rescue and have the organization on site, chatting with people and sharing their mission.
If you see a fursuiter and want to take a photo, feel free to approach them like you would anyone else.
A large number, however, won’t talk while in their suits, so don’t be alarmed if you get a mimed response, Conway said.
If they wave their hands no, it’s not personal; that likely means they are on their way to water, he said. (Furries, use these hacks to take public transit around the city during the convention.)
And please, please don’t touch the costumes or pull their tails. They can cost thousands of dollars.