SAN DIEGO — Tens of thousands of comic and pop culture fans swarmed downtown as San Diego Comic-Con 2019 began in earnest Thursday.
A group of local officials and convention representatives including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez and Comic- Con International Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer officially opened the 50th annual convention at 8 a.m.
At 2 p.m., the convention will hold a celebration of Marvel Comics co- creator and writer Stan Lee, who died at age 95 last November. The discussion, held in Room 5AB, will feature film producer Tom DeSanto, business partner Gil Champion and more discussing Lee’s impact on pop culture, memories of him and how he inspired comic book fans around the world.
Panels will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Additional panels include a discussion with “Spongebob Squarepants” voice actors, live podcast recordings, art and writing workshops and more. Events will also be held Thursday and throughout the weekend at Petco Park, the Theatre Box, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Balboa Theatre.
Throughout the day, the San Diego Blood Bank will continue its 43rd annual Robert A. Heinlein blood drive at the convention. Donors will receive a limited-edition “Avengers: Endgame” T-shirt and goody bag regardless of whether they have a badge to attend the convention or not.
Harbor Drive will be closed to all non-foot traffic from First Avenue to Park Boulevard from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate the convention’s large crowds. Local transit agencies like the Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District will offer increased service to and from the convention center to make up for the closures.
The annual five-day convention brings in more than $147 million in economic activity to San Diego County. An estimated 130,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year.