Brandon Perez, 11, is used to seeing the superheroes and villains of the comic book-turned-movie Guardians of The Galaxy on the small screen.
But Brandon didn’t know how to react when he saw them in person July 15 at the fast casual restaurant PDQ, 10121 W Flagler St. “They are more comic based. One of the characters is a lot greener,” he said. “But I can tell it’s a fun.”
He joined other movie fans at the restaurant, which hosts monthly events featuring cosplayers or impersonators, who dress up as well-known characters such as Batman and Alice in Wonderland.
Wearing green paint emulating Gamora from the hit movie, Laurin Masci, 24, an actress, practices cosplay on several occasions. She has found a passion for it and loves to share it with the youth.
“Every time is a treasure because you meet new people, you have new experiences, new things what’s there not to love?” she said. “Kids see their dream right in front of them. You can’t stop smiling even if you are the villain.”
Cosplay is performance art in which players wear costumes imitating a character. The mastermind behind the events is Jorge Alonso, event coordinator for PDQ Miami, who is a long-time comic book fan. Doris Torres also assists Alonso.
“I grasped the idea of the fame of superheroes and if you haven’t notice in all your movies the majority are superheroes,” he said.
“That’s what kids enjoy. They want to find that person they want to look up to.”
The cosplayers perform as volunteers. Bart McClelland, a project manager for a hardware supplier, played the role of villain Thanos.
“It’s the greatest feeling especially when you are playing a character that they love because for a kid they see you as that character,” said McClelland, 49, who spent less than $150 on his costume. “That’s as close as they’ll get to the real thing.”
The free events are held once a month. Patrons interact with the impersonators. There are several games and contests throughout the three-hour event such as dance-offs with characters for a prize.
Alan Martin, operating director for PDQ, said he smiles when he sees the children excited to see their hero in person.
“When we see the kids you can tell that they really enjoy it,” he said. While eating chicken tenders, Felipe Alvarez said he loves to bring his daughter, Marley, to the restaurant. Father and daughter have only missed one event since it started in January.
“We don’t get to get away as much to some of these locations like Disney,” he said. “PDQ goes out of the way to put these things together. It is a community involvement.”
Alonso agreed with Alvarez.
“You don’t have any entertainment like this in Miami, so for once we brought entertainment to Miami here at PDQ,” he said.
For details on the next event visit https://www.facebook.com/PDQMiamiFlaglerStreet.