Furries flock to Pittsburgh for the weekend |

Furries flock to Pittsburgh for the weekend

Natasha Lindstrom
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
More than 2,100 Furries assemble at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh for a group picture and a parade for Anthrocon 2018 on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Her fluffy tail upright and plastic eyes gleaming, Jas Rosado hesitated before answering what it means to be a “furry.”

“It’s a different definition for every person,” the 24-year-old Anthrocon 2018 participant from Reading said Saturday afternoon alongside about a dozen other “furries” — a fox, several dogs, a panther, a dinosaur — waiting for the elevator on the second floor of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Rosado, whose character goes by “Osador,” wore a heavy — yes, it gets really hot and sweaty inside, the Anthrocon second-timer confirmed — and an intricately designed head-to-toe ensemble resembling the Marvel movie franchise superhero “Rocket Raccoon.”

Rosado’s companion, a “Slothpool” character with large white talons jutting from his bright-red furry palms chimed in: Being a furry “definitely is about celebrating uniqueness,” said the sloth, who typically goes by Brian Quintana. He credited Rosado with handmaking his furry head and paws.

“It’s just a place for people to feel anthropomorphically more in their own skin,” said Quintana, 27, also of Reading, whether that means dressing like an animal of a different gender or a even a furry ghost creature.

“It’s like a way to get away from the real world, and also to just open up,” Rosado said. “Some people find it more difficult to open up when they’re not in suit.”

The Reading couple joined thousands who packed into Downtown Pittsburgh this weekend to participate in or simply enjoy the spectacle of Anthrocon 2018.

The four-day festival of furries has become an annual summer event in the City of Rivers and Bridges, drawing in crowds Saturday that rivaled those of the tailgaters and Pirates fans outside PNC Park.

Businesses up and down Penn and Liberty avenues offered up furry-themed refreshments and deals.

Signs propped up outside bars and restaurants urged costumed conference-goers to pop in for a “tail-chaser shot,” grab a slice of “furesh pizza and cold beer (parade fuel),” or, “cool your fur with a few margaritas.”

“People are always happy to see us, smiling and waving,” said a 25-year-old South Carolina man who goes by “Bazo Bovo” donning a white-and-tan dog head planted atop a blue flannel shirt. “There’s a lot of good friends. There’s dancing. There’s all kinds of stuff to see, a lot of cool art. And it’s a great time; there’s a lot of great energy in Pittsburgh.”

The conference promotes itself as a celebration of “furry fandom,” described as “an artistic and literary genre that is practiced and enjoyed by tens of thousands worldwide” with its conceptual roots dating to ancient Egypt.

The Anthrocon website notes that “only within the last two decades has anthropomorphic or furry fandom been recognized as a distinct fan base in its own right.”

“We count among our ranks professional sports mascots, animators, cartoonists, puppeteers, artists, illustrators, and writers, as well as those who simply think that it would be a wonderful thing if animals could walk or talk like we do,” Anthrocon promoters said. “… We are bound together across the most daunting barriers by our mutual admiration for these beasts of myth and legend who, by simple reflection, give us a better window into ourselves.”

Not every Pittsburgher is a fan of the furries.

Quintana laments when people dismiss Anthrocon by suggesting it has a sexualized nature to it.

“I feel like they get a bad rap, really,” said Miguel Montoya of Brentwood, who came Downtown to furry-watch with a friend and was particularly impressed by a creature resembling Bullwinkle the Moose.

“I feel like they’re all pretty nice people. I mean, it’s a great time, man.”

At 2 p.m., more than 1,000 furries paraded in a loop outside the convention center, spurring loud applause and laughter from a crowd spanning infants to the elderly.

“It’s quite interesting to see,” said Eric Nicklaus, 39, of Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. “There’s nothing like it, I think.”

When the parade dispersed, an impromptu drum circle formed at 10th Street and Penn Avenue and several non-costumed adults and children jumped in.

“I got to hug a fox!” 5-year-old Bailey squealed as she left the circle and ran into the arms of her mom, Wendi Caldwell of Cranberry.

Wendi Caldwell said she’s observed “nothing negative” when it comes to the furries.

“Even the scary ones know to step back if they see her afraid,” Caldwell said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience.”

Her daughter was even more excited for Anthrocon than Disney World.

“I think it’s great for Pittsburgh, it’s great for the furries,” Caldwell said. “We want to be known as a city that accepts diversity and accepts people as they are, and this is a perfect venue to show that.”

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at [email protected], 412-380-8514 or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.