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Though Delayed, Pensacon '21 Is A Go

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Pensacon
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After a postponement this year, Pensacon is set for next month at various locations around downtown Pensacola.

“We’re full steam ahead for May 21through May 23; we have been working diligently with all of our partners and all of our venues and everything is a go for right now,” said event organizer Julio Diaz. He adds that all festival-goers will be required to use face coverings at the venues, except at a designated area for eating and drinking.

“We will maintain social distancing throughout all of the event areas, whether it be waiting in line for an autograph, or going to a panel – that sort of thing,” Diaz said. “So there may be some small things like some small limits on panel seating, and seating people spaced apart.”

Pensacon’s celebrity lineup continues to grow. Kaylee Hottle , who stars in “Godzilla vs. Kong," will make her inaugural appearance at the Festival. Hottle plays Jia, a deaf girl who teaches sign language to the giant ape.

“Those who have seen the movie will absolutely remember her because she’s pretty much the heart of the movie,” said Diaz. “Kaylee is actually deaf in real life, and her whole family is in fact and they’re coming to join us at the convention and we couldn’t be more excited to have her.”

The young actress recently appeared on the website “Movie Clips,” with her signing translated by a verbal interpreter.

“Without that connection Kong wouldn’t be able to get to his home safely and it might have been the end for Kong,” said Kaylee’s interpreter. “It’s something that was able to communicate with him like Jia was, and was able to bring him home safely. And supporting Kong, I feel like it made him happier to want to go home and be safe.”

When not appearing on panels and other activities, Kaylee will spend time in Pensacon’s celebrity halls signing autographs and meeting the public through an interpreter. The latter a common practice at the festival.

“If there are any deaf or hard-of-hearing folks in the audience, they can always reach out to us and make sure they have an interpreter at the panels they want to go to,” said organizer Julio Diaz. “We usually put them on the major panels, but if we get a request for a certain panel, we’ll do our best to make sure they’re able to enjoy it.”

Other celebrities scheduled to appear at Pensacon include George Wendt – the barfly Norm on “Cheers.”

“Not to riff too much on the theme song from ‘Cheers,’ but [Wendt] is somebody who everybody knows his name,” Diaz said. “We’re very excited about David Koechner – maybe best known as Champ from the ‘Anchorman’ movies. We also have Kate Flannery from ‘The Office,’ joining us, [and] we also have lots of ‘Star Wars’ guests.”

Pensacon was scheduled for its usual dates in February, but as mentioned the pandemic took care of that. Diaz says it was a challenge but fortunately they’ve been working with the venues, with which they enjoy good relationships. There will be one change, however.

“We’ve typically used Pensacola Grand Hotel, and that will not be open this year; they’re doing some remodeling and reconstruction work,” said Diaz. “We’re working very closely this year with the [Pensacola] Bay Center as we always do; Pensacola Little Theater, we’ll be using the Rex Theater, and we’re working very closely with the University of West Florida Historic Trust.”

More information on next month’s event is available at pensacon.com.