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Comic Con event drew ‘spike’ in foot traffic to Sunrise Mall; plans to return

Stuntman Nick Palma stands in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume during a Comic Con event in June 2023 at Sunrise Mall. // S. Williams

By Sara Beth Williams–
The usually quiet Sunrise Mall saw an influx of foot traffic last month during a “Weekend Blender” Comic Con event that boosted business at the mall’s various retailers.

Sunrise Mall Assistant General Manager Brooke Bolden-Mallory confirmed to The Sentinel last week that the mall saw a “spike” in foot traffic during the Weekend Blender event, but did not provide a specific number of estimated traffic.

During the Weekend Blender, an event labeled as “Not Your Typical Comic Con,” attendees were able to shop at various vendor booths for everything from kids’ toys, pop culture and vintage items, collectables and clothes, to Lego sets, custom 3D-printed cosplay weapons and armor, and handmade arts and crafts.

Cosplay contests were held each day of the event, giving local cosplayers the chance to dress up and show off their favorite comic book, movie and TV characters to a round of applause.

Hollywood stuntman Nick Palma also made an appearance to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Palma’s IMDB credits include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (1991) and III (1993).

“It hasn’t been this busy in a long time,” Tatiana Neto said during the event. Neto is a supervisor at Mark’s Hallmark store inside the mall and has worked for the store since 2008. She added that she hopes to see more similar events in the future, as it brought an influx of customers into the Hallmark store.

The Weekend Blender was organized by Pete Salazar, who said the events began in 2009 at the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis, California, with a handful of vendors who sold arts and crafts, toys, and collectibles. Salazar runs his own store in the Sierra Vista Mall and has hosted Weekend Blender events at both the Sierra Vista Mall and the Westfield Mall in Tracy.

Bolden-Mallory said the Comic Con event was a “good thing” for the mall atmosphere, and said she “absolutely” would love to see similar events take place at the Sunrise Mall.

In a phone call with The Sentinel, Salazar said he hopes to bring back the Weekend Blender in January of 2024. Sunrise Mall’s manager also said there is a possibility that the Weekend Blender event will return in 2024, but no final decision has been made on the matter.

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