Saturday, November 8, 2014

Milwaukee's Brony Convention: Grown men who love My Little Pony

My world is forever changed.  The kind of change where you can't go back.  There is life before knowing what a Brony is, and life after.  This is my experience at Wisconsin's first ever My Little Pony convention.

My Little Brony

This adventure, began on Friday.  Fox 6 photojournalist Joe Wagener asked if I would like to go with him to the Hyatt Regency downtown on Saturday, and help him write a story.  The subject, Wisconsin's first "My Little Pony Convention".

I've had a pretty depressing week.  This is the story Joe and I did on Thursday.  

I needed to tell something different.  Something happier. Joe found that place, and boy was I surprised!

I remember My Little Pony from my childhood.  My sister was a fan, and had the toys.  What I did not realize is it became a TV show.  I also had no idea in 2011, the 4th version of the show was created.  Turns out little girls are not the only fans of the show anymore.

Technically, the convention is called the Ponyville Ciderfest.  Instead of girls under the age of ten running around (which there were some) the majority of those attending the convention tended to be men in their 20's.  Men in their 20's, dressed up as ponies.

That pony in yellow is Steve Schertz.  Steve was introduced to My Little Pony two years ago.

"When I first started watching I thought I can watch this quietly in my house, and no one would ever know.   And now I am working on my second pony suit, I own a school bus I converted into an RV with ponies on it, a pony tattoo.  And I visited 12 different conventions," Steve told me.

Steve is a Brony.

"Bros, ponies, mix the two, and that’s where you get bronies," says convention organizer Corey Wood.

This convention, in its' first year, attracted more than 650 people.  Besides dressing up as characters from the show...there is dancing.

Ponies apparently like techno-esque music.   There are sit down sessions with voice actors from the show.

There is a hall full of vendors selling everything My Little Pony.  There was also a room with a couple arcade games.  Events at night included a formal dance and a "Cider Bar".

People came from all over the country to attend.  I am told the biggest convention is in Baltimore (almost 10,000 Bronies.)

Did it take me out of my comfort zone?  Yes.  Was everyone extremely welcoming and willing to share their seemingly strange love of the show?  Of course!

"We’re in Milwaukee, the home of Harley Davidson, there is nothing different than this than guys getting together, dressing up with something they love.  No different than other sub culture," says Steve.

"The show is all about friendship is magic, and that's the main theme of the show.   So all the bronies, all the fans of the show come here because they love the theme of the show,  they love the message.  So it’s all about love, tolerance, and acceptance," says Wood.

This was a learning experience.  Thank you Joe for asking me to tag along.  Thank you Bronies for the warm welcome!  I'll be sure to share the story when it is done!