After 2-year hiatus, horror fans return en masse to Midsummer Scream in Long Beach

Thousands of people—many dressed as monsters, witches or ghouls—descended on the Long Beach Convention Center Saturday afternoon for the heavily anticipated Midsummer Scream.

The annual Halloween and horror convention celebrates the spirit of of the genre. Since 2016, hundreds of vendors, exhibitions, haunted attractions and live shows have delighted fans of terror and gore. Now, the three-day event serves up horror to fans in the summer as a means to usher in the Halloween season.

Las Vegas resident Josh Ryan said he has attended Midsummer Scream ever since its inception. Dressed as a Frankenstein-esque version of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a British children’s book about a rabbit that wishes to become real through the love of its owner, the 32-year-old walked around the convention’s floor trying to give people a spook with his frayed mask and claws, which were made out of carrots.

“It’s about dressing up and getting to live your fantasy, about getting to be what you want to be,” Ryan said. “Scaring people—it’s fun. This is the time of the year to get spooked. It’s the one time of the year we’re allowed to do it without looking like a crazy person.”

Josh Ryan, 32, dressed as his Frankenstein-esque version of “The Velveteen Rabbit” on Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

The convention in Long Beach was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19. Ticketholders for those two years had the option of a refund or having their tickets roll over until the next event.

This year, many excited fans waited for up to two hours under the hot Long Beach sun to even get inside the Convention Center, with a miles-long line that looped around the area starting at Long Beach Boulevard.

“It’s surprising how big it was,” according to Ryan, who said it took him more than an hour to get in. “But it was worth it.”

Organizers didn’t immediately respond to questions about what caused the long lines or whether the rollover tickets had anything to do with it.

Inside, the Convention Center was buzzing with excitement from fans deciding which attraction to first visit.

One show, “Night of the Living Drag,” appeared to steal the spotlight as people scrambled to find an open seat in the crowded room.

Drag queen Oceana dons Ghostface attire for the “Night of the Living Drag” performance during Midsummer Scream Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

This was the first ever performance of its kind at Midsummer Scream, according to self-proclaimed scream queen and drag performer Peaches Christ.

Audiences erupted with cheers as each drag queen embodied a character of the horror genre from Ghostface, of “Scream” fame, to Hannibal Lecter, putting on a bawdy singing and dance performance.

“I’m a true scream queen,” Peaches Christ told an adoring crowd. “We are the weirdos, mister.”

Three Midsummer Scream attendees Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

An attendee at the Midsummer Scream convention shows off their sharp teeth Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

Pennywise the clown torments the aisles of the Midsummer Scream event Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A sign in front of dozens of allegedly haunted doll warns people to avoid touching them at the Midsummer Scream convention Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A shocked woman reacts to a horror fan acting as a severed head at one of the hundreds of Midsummer Scream booths on Saturday, July, 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

Horror-film characters Jason (left) and Freddy Krueger take the streets of Long Beach before getting in line for the Midsummer Scream convention Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

Special effects artist Greg Nicotero, known for working on “The Walking Dead,” signs autographs during Midsummer Scream Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A special effects artist works on adding makeup to an attendee dressed a ghoul during Midsummer Scream Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

An attendee at the Midsummer Scream event roams the floor in a demon costume Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A giant skeleton towers over horror fans at the Midsummer Scream convention Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A man oinks at the crowd in an attempt scare them during Midsummer Scream Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A skeleton couple lie in bed inside a model home displayed at the Midsummer Scream convention Saturday, July 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

Things to do in Long Beach this weekend including…pirates and a summertime horror convention

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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