A HurriCon hit Bethany Congregational Church last Saturday, when local artists and comic book collectors were on hand to sell their memorabilia and raise money for the church.
The event attracted dozens of people interested in the world of comics. The “con” in HurriCon — mimicking the popular Comic-Con — tells only half the story.
The event, held each year since 2018, has had a huge impact on Bethany Congregational in the years since Hurricane Sandy left East Rockaway in shambles. In late October 2012, the church opened its doors to community members who were suddenly homeless and without necessities.
“This whole room was filled with clothing,” Richard Eaves, the president of the church’s board of trustees, recalled, referring to the room in which HurriCon was taking place.
According to Eaves, the church became a center for donations. “There was so much generated generosity, and we were even getting stuff from Louisiana,” he said. Tractor-trailers from Louisiana arrived at the church to help donate clothing.
Along with clothing, other necessities were being distributed.
“We had all these tables that were lined up in four rows,” Eaves said. “One table was strictly dedicated to batteries, another for food, and one for mops which was the busiest table.”
The church distributed donated materials, and was open to the public for nearly six months. As time went on, some issues started to reveal themselves. “The sewer plant back flowed,” Eaves said.
Nassau County workers who fixed the plant were regularly visiting the church. Because workers’ and community members’ shoes weren’t always clean, the church’s floors were damaged.
Although they were cleaned, it was a temporary fix. So church member David Donovan came up with a fun way to raise money to pay to repair them: a Comic-Con-type event called HurriCon.
“David got these folks to come in here and to get a table at this event. It’s not expensive, so a lot of people bought tables,” Eaves said. The first HurriCon, in 2018, raised about $3,000, which was used to renovate the floors.
The event has been a tradition ever since, with the mission to give back to the community.
“David is helping the artists sell their art and he’s helping us at the church,” Eaves said. The funds raised at past HurriCon events have gone toward fixing a furnace in the church. “It’s keeping us alive,” Eaves said about Donovan’s HurriCon.
Over the past four years, Donovan has brought in plenty of artists, comic-book illustrators, authors, and designers. Some of these people include Donovan’s friends Sean Jackson and Ken Gale. Other artists were East Rockaway community members, with one being a student at East Rockaway High School.
Donovan wanted to make sure that HurriCon was a very welcoming event to everyone. “This whole culture that we refer to as ‘nerd culture’ was always looked down upon,” Donovan said. “But the actual culture is very inclusive.”
With the event bringing in people from throughout Long Island, Donovan was pleased with the outcome of HurriCon this year. “This event has definitely grown,” Donovan said. “This isn’t a real comic-con, but the way I look at it is this is a small community event.
“Everyone here is a volunteer and a friend of mine,” Donovan said. He wants to refer to this event as a community event as it brings so many members of the community together.
What makes this event special according to Donovan is that “you can get a gift from here that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.” There were a lot of niche comic souvenirs that were being sold at the event and given out during raffles. Some of which included a replica of Negan’s bat from “The Walking Dead” as well as a Captain America bust that retails for over $400.