First-of-its-kind anime convention draws thousands to St. Pete Coliseum

Thousands of costumes, collectors and creative minds passed through the historic Coliseum for the first-ever "Anime St. Pete" convention over the weekend. 

Anime refers to a specific style of cartoon produced or inspired by Japanese animation. It's gained popularity around the world over recent years, and Anime St. Pete organizer Dewey Caruthers wanted to bring the fan base to the city he grew up in. 

He's a self-described 'comic nerd' who's been to hundreds of these conventions and even passed down the passion to his children. 

'Anime St. Pete' came a few months after he successfully launched 'Comic Con St. Pete’ in January. 

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"Comic Con was just so incredibly well received," Caruthers recalled. "St Petersburg is the fourth largest city in the state, but before Comic Con you didn't even have a convention. Bradenton, Ocala and all these smaller cities had conventions, so we wanted to put St. Pete on the map."

The first anime convention in St. Petersburg drew thousands of fans.

The first anime convention in St. Petersburg drew thousands of fans. 

Anime comes alive through video games, books, movies & shows. Guests even got to meet the voice actors of some of their favorite characters.

Many came dressed and acted like their favorite character to compete for prizes. Cosplay is a huge part of the experience. 

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"It’s just an art, whether you make it or you buy it or you're doing makeup or hair, it's all an art and acting and portraying a character that you love," explained cosplay actress Dan Davis.

The detail is impressive. Often, cosplayers put weeks into making and designing their own costumes to showcase on social media and conventions just like this. Some, like cosplay actress Sarah Jane, describe it as an escape from reality, and a chance to interact with others who share imaginative interests. 

A woman dresses up at Anime St. Pete.

A woman dresses up at Anime St. Pete. 

"Honestly, when I was younger I was teased a lot for the interests that I had," Jane said, "I feel now that years have gone on and it's become more popular, people appreciate the art form and appreciate that people love to put ornate costumes together and cool performances together to do this." 

Caruthers' next event will be "Holiday cosplay Tampa Bay," on December 10 and 11 at the Tampa Convention Center.