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.”
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.
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.”