NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Very rarely does a perfect blogging opportunity fall into your lap. Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017 was one of the rare occasions.
News told of a furry meet in front of the Niagara Falls Conference and Events Center on Old Falls Street. This wasn’t going to be a generic meet either: this was a full fursuit (customized mascot-esque costumes) meetup right in the middle of downtown Niagara Falls.
It was about to be March of the Furries, and there was no way I was missing it.
I convinced my friend, who we’ll call Elitn, to come along. While I had a working (albeit useless) knowledge of furries, my friend was going into this cold. I was the reporter dragging a civilian friend into the fire, and it was going to be epic.
The event was slated to begin at 2 p.m. local time. We got there on the dot.
The wall of fursuits I expected to see was nonexistent: two suits and a few plain-clothed furries were standing idly near the Rainforest Cafe.
Elitn and I approached, then quickly left to recalibrate our nonexistent tactics. We came back a few minutes later to the same crowd. 40 minutes past the hour, the heads of the event arrived in full fursuit.
The army was now four fursuits strong, with a plain-clothed keeping theirs in their car.
Children were now beginning to take notice. The flash of cameras was starting to shine.
At this point, the split that would determine the fate of this campaign began. Two furs, a wolf by the name of Jayy and a lion by the name of Rio, began to advance down Old Falls Street toward the State Park. They were followed by Faunte: the plain-clothed with a suit in their car.
Elitn and I decided to follow their advance. This was the march we waited for.
What quickly became apparent as we approached the mighty cataracts was how misleading the weather on the street had been. We were approaching a spitting waterfall in 35 degrees Fahrenheit weather. The wind had peak gusts of 45 mph.
This was Napoleon’s furry march into Russia, and we were ill-prepared.
I attempted to snap a few pics as we made it to the edge of the Falls, but the freezing mist quickly overpowered my camera.
Within minutes, it became apparent that any sort of successful meet had collapsed: the weather was too brutal and the numbers were too few.
While I had been busy freezing, Elitn had been asking all the right questions. For someone far from the fandom, he was building up a rapport.
So we went to Fuji Grill.
Elitn and I got there first, and waited.
“Do you have any contact info for these people?” Elitn asked me.
Luckily, the now plain-clothed Rio and Jayy walked in, followed by Faunte.
Yes: forgoing the full Falls foray, these furries settled their stomachs with sushi.
Never having been to Fuji Grill, I must say that this was surreal. I was in unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar people…
…and it was awesome.
Elitn continued to ask the hard hitting questions about their lives and the fandom. We learned a lot that day. For example: we learned you can buy a “decent” fursuit head for around $500. Some fursuits are in the thousands. This is not a cheap fandom. Jayy is actually buying a high-end designer fursuit from Japan.
In relation to Japan, both Jayy and Rio started off as anime fans before joining the furry fandom. Since my eyes dilate to obscene levels when someone mentions Sailor Moon, I understood that wholeheartedly.
One part of the furry fandom that gets overlooked is how deep the community goes. Faunte, who moved to Western New York from a few states away explained that she didn’t know anybody when she first moved here. Due to her connections with the furry fandom, however, she was quickly able to make friends.
Of course, due to a random series of circumstances, what I expected to be an interesting blog post topic turned into me finding three new solid friends. Elitn’s part of the club too, even if he says he isn’t (he already said he’ll go to another meet if I drag him there, so you know how this ends.)