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Pensacon 2021 On Hold

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Owing to the pandemic and after discussions with local partners and officials, organizers of Pensacon are pushing back the annual event to later this year, at least.

Originally set for Feb. 26-28, organizers are now searching for new dates.

“Obviously, the first concern is safety; we’ve seen a spike where we’re sitting at the worst we’ve been since this pandemic began in cases and deaths. We just don’t think it’s the right time. We want to make sure everybody’s safe, first and foremost,” said Pensacon founder and CEO Mike Ensley.

“One of the things about Pensacon is that we’re so spread out downtown, and we have to work with so many venues,” said Ensley. “So we’re working with them right now, to try to find a date that can work with all of them. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to announce those dates. We’re looking at summertime, so that’s probably when we’ll be back in action.”

Beyond that, fans of Pensacon and the celebrities appearing there come to Pensacola from literally around the world including areas now considered to be COVID-19 hot spots.

“We have guests that come in here from Los Angeles, and Los Angeles is much worse of a [COVID-19] place than we are,” Ensley said. “So it’s very difficult for them to travel. That makes it difficult to have guests here for the event. Same thing with London, same thing with Tokyo, just all the cities that we work with are under lockdowns or near-lockdowns at the moment.”

One of the challenges, he says, is not related to the coronavirus. Hurricane Sally last September cause substantial damage to a number of Pensacon venues.

“The Grand Hotel is still closed for repairs after that; New World Landing, that we were going to use, is closed for repairs, their event facilities,” said Ensley. “UWF Historic Trust has some buildings that are still being repaired. So it’s just been a confluence of things.”

And once game is back on for Pensacon, the safety measures now being practiced will remain in effect for the event.

“It’s going to require everyone to wear a face mask; to keep social distance, hand-sanitizing and hand-washing stations [and] more outdoor activities,” Ensley said. “And we don’t want to give people a lesser experience, either. They’ve come to expect that they can get up and talk to people at Pensacon; they can get their photo-ops with their favorite celebrities. And that just not possible right now.”

Those who have already purchased tickets for Pensacon 2021 will be automatically rolled over to the rescheduled dates. And if the new dates don’t match your schedule and are unable to go, your tickets can be rolled over to Pensacon 2022. For now, CEO Mike Ensley says it appears the scheduled lineup may not see many changes.

“It also opens up the opportunity for more guests, and perhaps some really big names will come in,” said Ensley. “We have a history of dropping in a big name at the last minute kind of every year, with Edward James Olmos this past year. So people may see some bigger names showing up.”

More information on Pensacon can be found at pensacon.com,  as well as Pensacon’s Facebook and Instagram pages.