By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – An international convention which attracts thousands of visitors to downtown Detroit from around the world to take part in a variety conferences and events will takeover the city this weekend.

Youmacon, which is similar to most “Comic Cons” except that it celebrates Japanese popular culture and its influence on culture, opens Thursday night and runs through Sunday with a variety interactive games, celebrity guest panels, musical performances, exhibitors and live action Mario and Donkey Kong parties.

“Youmacon is a giant festival of Japanese animation, video games and pop culture,” said founder Morgan Kollin, who has grown the event into the 10th largest in the United States. “We have been growing exponentially every year.”

In the ten years Youmacon has been held it has grown from over 1,000 attendees at the Troy Hilton, to filling all the conference rooms at the GM Renaissance Center and part of Cobo Center. More than 16,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the event. Kollin said it has grown so large that the entire Marriott Hotel at the Renaissance Center is booked for attendees.

In comparison, more than 5,000 journalists attend the press preview for the North American International Auto Show.

Organizers said there will be events 24-hours-a-day beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening through 6 p.m. on Sunday. The all-ages event also will feature video game and table top gaming rooms, a charity masquerade Ball and a 100,000-square-foot dealer’s room for shopping anime and other collectibles.

Additionally, more than 30 anime industry celebrities and special guests are expected attend, including actors, producers, musicians, artists and more.

Hosting this event in the city is a goal of Kollin.

“One of the key missions of Youmacon is to bring tourism to the region,” he said. “I have always lived in this region and I want to do everything I can to support it.”

Tickets are available at the door, and Thursday’s events are free.

For a full list of events, visit the Youmacon website.

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