Dressed as their favorite fictional characters, from longhaired Hylians to prim Mad Hatters, dozens of local cosplayers will gather at Tropical Park this Saturday for this year's Fantastical Tea Party.
In recent years, the quirky event, combining a potluck and plenty of lallygagging on the green fields of the park, has become a staple in South Florida geek life. Spring has historically been a sleepy season for comic conventions, so the Tea Party was launched in 2010 to give local cosplayers another opportunity to commiserate with and meet like-minded fellows.
Plus, the atmosphere is much more intimate than what many conventions provide.
"Cons are amazing, but every once in a while you just want to eat cookies and play giant Jenga with a bunch of nerds, and the Tea Party fills that informal void for all of us," says 27-year-old Xandra Anneww, who created the event with her team of smiley, whimsical friends. They call themselves "The Outlaw Corps."
In 2014 and 2015, about 100 people flocked to Tropical Park to attend the Tea Party, but last year's event was a bit less crowded. One of the reasons: Many of the major Miami-based conventions — Supercon, Animate! Florida, and Paradise City Comic Con — moved to Fort Lauderdale, dampening the mood in the Magic City geek scene.
But this past weekend saw the first Supercon Retro, bringing a new convention to Miami that's aimed at rousing local geeks from their slumber. So this year's Tea Party might get a boost in attendance.
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Activities at this year's Tea Party range from a costume contest to a scavenger hunt. There will also be a "tea identity contest" — the person with the most discriminating palate is poised to win.
The best thing though about the event, though, is the accepting crowd. "The spirit of the Tea Party is very relaxed and simple," Anneww says. "Everybody loves a tea party, and everyone just needs an excuse to hang out sometimes."
Fantastical Tea Party
Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Tropical Park, 7900 Bird Rd., Miami. Visit the Facebook event page.