How to get a cosplay event park permit!
If you’re thinking about hosting your own cosplay event for the first time, that’s totally awesome! I myself have hosted cosplay events for many years, and I can tell you that it truly is a satisfying feeling getting cosplayers together for a social event. You’re doing the community a wonderful service.
One of the first things you may be wondering is if you need permission to hold a cosplay gathering at a park? Do you need a special permit? Or can you just do one whenever you want? Well in this article, I will be answering all the questions related to park permits.
Do you need a permit for a cosplay park event?
For many cities and jurisdictions, you will need to purchase a permit in order to hold a large gathering at a park. However, it really depends on the area you plan on hosting the park in. For some places, you do not need a permit at all, especially if you plan on having that many people attend. But do know if you do need a permit, it’s not as scary as it sounds; most of the time, it just simply involves paying some money and making sure you follow the rules.
In this post, I’ll give you 5 tips on how to get a cosplay park permit, and what you need to know!
1. Find a suitable city or town that makes it easier to get a cosplay event park permit
The first thing you need to do if you plan on hosting a cosplay park event is finding a decent place to hold one. In terms of this post, I’m more talking about finding a city that is easy to host an event.
In my experience, some cities are better than others when it comes to holding a cosplay gathering
- One city may require you to buy a permit if you have more than 20-25 people for your gathering and that is it. (Good)
- Many cities allow you to hold a social gathering at a park if it’s very few people (e.g. less than 20)
- Another city may not require any permit even if you have a large group, so long as you’re not setting anything fancy up like a stage or loud music (also good)
- While there are other cities that not only require you to buy a permit, you would need all sorts of permission and possibly sponsors and all that jazz (bad)
- Some cities won’t allow any social gathering permits in many of their parks
So before you completely decide on a city park to hold the cosplay gathering in, make sure it’s also easy and doable to do so. Unfortunately for one time, I found the PERFECT park to hold a cosplay park event in! But the rules in that particular city were incredibly strict: had to be a resident of the city, needed all sorts of setup that would have costed me way too much money, and tons of liability. Because of all the red tape involved in bringing a bunch of cosplayers together, I decided to skip out on this park and looked for another one.
All you have to do is search on Google, “(name of city) park permit” to find the rules and regulations of that particular city.
2. Avoid “Special Permit/Event” permits
In many cities, there is a specific type of permit called the Special Event permit. These permits are meant for big park events like music festivals, stage performances, loud music, etc. Special event permits are far more complex, cost much more money and involve far more liability. If you’re hosting a cosplay park event, you do NOT want to apply for this type of permit.
Try to find the permit that is meant for small social gatherings such as a cosplay park event. But if the city requires you to apply for a special permit even for a cosplay gathering, then find a different city and don’t bother.
3. Find a suitable park
Now that you’ve found a suitable city to hold a cosplay gathering, it’s time to find a good park! What are some good traits?
- A park that has a secluded, quieter area. Try to find a park that is nice and tranquil. I’ve seen parks that are super busy (especially ones in downtown), and those aren’t the ideal places to hold a cosplay park event.
- Close to a major transit center. In my experience, the most popular parks tend to be near a subway station or near a bus transit station, because they are easily accessible by public transit. So be sure to pick one that isn’t difficult to get to. If I lived in New York or Chicago, I would choose something like Central Park or Lincoln Park!
- Ideally has unique features. Cosplayers love attending park events with unique features like ponds, beautiful flowers, rolling hills, etc. That way, they can get nice photos while at the event!
4. How to Register and get your permit
Getting a park permit for your cosplay gathering may seem like a daunting task like signing legal papers! That’s certainly how I felt when I did it the first time. But after I did it, it wasn’t like that at all. Most of the time, it involves something like this:
- Checking the park and seeing which areas are available to book
- Calling the city permit line to register and book the permit, as well as paying for the permit
- Printing out the permit and keeping it with you during the event
That’s basically it!
For example, I have booked cosplay park events in Toronto, Canada. Their system is really easy to use. I called them up, told them my intentions for the gathering, they accepted my request and allowed me to book a social gathering park permit. I paid the fee with my credit card and printed out the permit with the document they sent to me through email.
5. Bring the permit with you during the event (and make sure you follow all the rules!)
Last but not least; be sure to bring the permit with you during the event! That way, if there are any disrepencies and anyone wants t take your park area, you can show them the permit to let them know that it is your spot to occupy.
One time I had a guy try to take my picnic bench and while he knew I had a permit, he claimed that he booked the exact same spot as I did. After some confusion, I called the city and he actually got the wrong permit spot. Still, I gave him one of my benches for him to use as a good gesture.
Also, make sure you AND your attendees follow all the rules outlined in the permit. Some of the rules I had to follow:
- No loud music
- No BBQ
- Could not tie anything to the trees (e.g. pinata)
- No making marks or stakes on the ground
- I had to be there at a certain time or otherwise I would give up my permit spot (even though I already paid for it)
If you want to learn more about the best tips on how to host a cosplay event, click here to read my article about it!
Overall, I have mixed feelings about holding cosplay park events and getting a permit. On one hand, it is tedious to follow all the rules outlined in the permit and paying for one, meanwhile other people at the park are doing the activities you want to do for free. On the other hand, having a permit gave us peace of mind and allowed us to get cosplayers together for a gathering. And I can happily say that we always feel great after a cosplay park event. It’s always fun times, so the hassle of getting a permit is usually worth it!
If you enjoyed this post or have questions, leave a comment below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!