Third annual Thunder-Con next weekend at mall

ALPENA – Alpena’s third annual Thunder-Con – Northeast Michigan’s science fiction, fantasy and anime convention – is coming back to the Alpena Mall on July 20-21 with new local artists, a gaming tournament and its costume contest.

The convention is open to everyone and event coordinators give a free Thunder-Con badge to anyone who stops in and browses the vendors and collections.

“We have quite a mix of vendors with a lot of local artists showing what they can do,” event organizer Mike Jasman said. “We have a lot of local sponsors and mall merchants helping us out. All our prizes are provided by sponsors.”

This year Jasman spent a lot of time building a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) from the Doctor Who series to be used for photos and as a display.

The convention will have a video game decathlon hosted by Alpena Game Tournaments where participants will try to defeat Bowser, Robotnic, and many more villains as quickly as possible with prizes given to the best times. The contest is free and is open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on July 20, and 12-4 p.m. on July 21.

Wargames North will host a Magic The Gathering Tournament for a $10 entry fee, with the top prize being a box of 36 packs of cards released that day worth $110. The tournament will take place on July 20 and begins at noon.

“We also have decks available to teach people how to play the game at Wargames North,” store Manager Steve Szucs said. “The convention takes over the entire mall with vendor artwork, Star Trek displays and comic book artwork.”

A few of the main events at Thunder-Con are a costume contest and pop culture version of Jeopardy. Both contests will take place on July 20, and any age can participate. Winning contestants will receive prizes and are encouraged to register prior to the contests on July 20 at center court near the stage in the mall.

Children ages 4-10 can participate in a Jedi Laser Sword Academy and put on their Jedi costume to receive a lightsaber and instruction on sparring technique from a Jedi Master. Costumes are not required for the academy, but participants must be accompanied by an adult.

“They will learn some techniques on how to use a lightsaber,” Jasman said. “At the end of the training they receive a Jedi certificate.”

There also will be a Star Wars museum open with toys, props, and replica costumes from all six Star Wars movies. The theatre will be open running various fan films and local submissions all day, along with fan presentations, and the Alpena High School Anime Club will be face painting at the convention.

David Cummins will be on hand from Alpena Community College running remotely operated vehicle demonstrations in a water tank for spectators.

Featured guests at the convention include local writers and artists such as Kurt J. Kolka, John Garavaglia, Bob Levevre, Tom Sawyer and Carissa Marks.

For more information and a detailed schedule of events, visit

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.