PITTSBURGH Thousands of "furries" -- fans of animated cartoon animals -- gathered in Pittsburgh on Friday for the opening of their annual convention celebrating their off-beat interest.
The convention features artwork, comic book sales, dances, puppetry classes and panel discussions on storytelling and voice acting, organizers said.
Many furries attending Anthrocon don artificial tails and some wear original costumes, which can cost thousands of dollars to create, organizers said.
Attendee Karl Jorgensen, of Leesburg, Virginia, said being a furry was rooted in his longtime appreciation for Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. cartoons.
"I'm interested in animation," he said. "The playfulness ... I mean, who doesn't like watching cartoons, right?"
This year's convention was expected to draw nearly 5,000 people, said John "K.P." Cole, the event's programing director. That would be the largest turnout since the convention began meeting 14 years ago in Albany, New York, he said.
"It was a big party," Cole said. "It's been growing ever since."
The convention has been held annually in Pittsburgh since 2006, and local restaurants and businesses embrace the influx of furries with special menus and discounts, organizers said.
(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)