STAMFORD — Spiderman, Captain America and other characters will be staying at a downtown hotel later this month.
“I always felt there was a disconnect between the rich part and not-so rich part of town,” said Velez, 35, who is from Middletown. “I wanted to kind of connect them.”
Velez traveled the country before working in Stamford, and he cosplayed — or dressed up in character — at numerous conventions. He said he disliked the poor customer service, high cost and lack of “interactive things for families to do.” So he decided to change the approach.
“I always felt like I could do better,” Velez said. In the summer of 2014, he started planning his own convention. By 2016, he organized the first Lock City Comic Con with celebrity guests Peter Ostrum from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and Dahlia LeGault from “The Walking Dead.”
Velez said last year’s convention, which was held at the Italian Center, taught him to spend wisely while interacting with fans and listening to feedback. So he handpicked his vendors based on cost and level of interaction so “kids can bring their allowance and take home a bag full of stuff” at his event.
Velez expects 3,000 people to attend this year’s event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 22 at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel.
Velez is planning to have about 80 tables, along with a zombie school, a spy camp and a Q&A with anime voice actress Sara Ornelas. He will also repeat last year’s Autism Sensory Program, providing autistic children a sensory-safe hour at the convention.
Velez’s attorney and friend Chris Norris, 51, of New Fairfield, has a 14-year-old autistic son who inspired the program.
Norris said he fundraises for other conventions throughout the year, and while all of the events in New England are “open to all and generous,” only Velez’s provides a sensory-friendly hour.
“He’s been very good to the community,” Norris said.
Velez said he wants to expand, possibly adding show cars next year. But he plans to keep his convention in Stamford, where he said the residents demand “top-notch quality” for their hard-earned money.
“I love that challenge,” Velez said. “I never thought this would be a career path, but I’m going to ride the wave out as long as I can.”
For more information, visit Lockcitycomiccon.com.