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Japanese Anime Fans Flock To Otakon Convention In Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—One of the biggest attention-grabbers of the season is back. Otakon, a convention for fans of Japanese anime, draws thousands to the Inner Harbor each year.

 Pat Warren has more on the economic impact this gathering has on the city.

Heads are turning and money is changing hands. It’s hard to tell who’s more excited: the conventioneers in their costumes or the Baltimoreans behind the counters.

“Oh a lot of money, lot of money,” said Matt Zak, of Erie, Pa. “Most of my summer paycheck goes here.”

“They flock to the Inner Harbor,” said Laurie Schwartz, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “They eat at the restaurants. They buy goods at the various shops. They generally like to bring something back home from Baltimore.”

Otakon’s website boasts that since 1999 they’ve “taken over a sizeable chunk of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for a three-day festival.”

Last year 30,000 people attended.  And as statistics show, Otakon has handed over a sizeable chunk of money in return: an average of $15 million a year, which includes filling as many as 4,600 hotel rooms in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

“It’s one of our biggest weekends of the year,” said one street vendor.

Whether it’s soft drinks and street food or the additional pay the security guards make, Otakon loves Baltimore. And Baltimore loves it right back.

“If I had to choose the best vacation this is it every year,” said one attendee.

“This one is special,” Schwartz said. “It just creates a buzz around the city.”

Otakon organizers say the convention keeps getting bigger every year.

Otakon includes all factions of Asian pop culture. It runs through Sunday afternoon.

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