THUNDER BAY, ONT. — It’s morphin’ time to “Dino Thunder power up” as ThunderCon 2022 returns with a Dino Thunder theme and a pair of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
ThunderCon chancellor Kevin Taylor says they are really excited to be back after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. He said ample planning has paid off with a variety of popular characters that will delight everyone.
“There were a few changes we had to make to programming and accommodations with the uncertainty around (COVID) travel restrictions,” Taylor said. “We focused on Canadian talent and we have some great guests coming in.”
One of the big draws is guest appearances by Kevin Duhaney, known as the Blue Ranger, and Jeff Palazzo, the White Ranger from Power Rangers Dino Thunder and Power Rangers Ninja Steel.
“They’re a convention staple, not to mention being pop culture icons. Kevin and Jeff are Canadian too, so that makes them perfect guests for ThunderCon 2022,” said Heather Dickson, media director for the event.
Dickson says the Power Rangers is an international fan-favourite television franchise that has been running in various iterations since 1993.
Dino Thunder was the 12th series and featured a dinosaur theme for the powers, abilities and assets of most of the series’ protagonists and antagonists.
Among the many appearances will be Dr. Stevil, who is an entertainer in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) cosplay community. Actress Lisa Marie DiGiacinto, who is originally from Thunder Bay, currently lives in Vancouver and has appeared in Supernatural, The Flash, and Arrow, as well as a recurring role in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
She is also a voice actor in the video-game Need For Speed, a casting assistant in many shows and is currently busy with a theatrical production in Winnipeg.
“I’m very excited to be coming home for this,” said DiGiacinto in a media release. “I love to chat and make new friends and if there are any aspiring actors out there, anyone looking to get into the industry or someone who needs some advice, I hope I can help guide you along the way.”
Also appearing is Justin Currie of Chasing Artwork whose artwork is described as stunning and jaw-dropping by Dickson. The Heather Dale band will perform music which is like medieval and Renaissance music but “updated a little bit.”
“We commissioned a local artist who’s done some really fantastic builds for us. Jamie Young is with J and K Creations and we’re really happy to have him back doing something else,” added Taylor. “Two years back he created a lifesize Stargate display for us and in 2019 he created a (Game of Thrones) throne for us, and he’s doing another build for us this year and we’re really excited to show that off.”
There will be plenty of ways to get your geek on from role-playing or cosplay to speed painting miniatures or learning how to train your baby Klingon. Find out what’s behind the voice, join a fitness session for superheroes or learn how to apply character makeup.
Participating talent and visitors come to Thunder Bay from southern Ontario, as far west as Vancouver and as far south as Texas for ThunderCon.
The event can generate between a quarter to half a million dollars over the weekend in tourism-related dollars. Taylor says this is based on financial formulas that are available to them from government bodies to calculate that and the number of people that come in from out of town for the event.
“A lot of local businesses and vendors . . . are generating funds for their revenue and getting audiences to see them — sometimes for the first time — to help their year-round business as well,” he said. “A wide variety of vendors include everything from tabletop gaming and accessories to cosplay-related wardrobes. There’s artwork and of course, there are traditional comic books and things like that. It’s quite an eclectic group of vendors from a wide variety of things that you buy or have the opportunity to attend workshops and panels related to the guests in the different types of industries they represent. There is also programming with other businesses on site and we do some cross-promotion and some programming with Silver City as well.”
Organizers of ThunderCon rely on the support of local businesses and sponsors, grants and government-funded opportunities. An application for funding from Reconnect Ontario has been approved and funding from the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CDEC) tourism division has come through as well.
“We’re really happy with the support we get from the community, the government and vendors of course because they’re often providing a little bit of in-time sponsorship as well for some of the services we need which is fantastic,” he said.
ThunderCon will take place Sept. 17-18 at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grounds. Visit www.thundercon.org for more information.
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal