SECAUCUS, N.J. Dale Fjordbotten is a proud My Little Pony fan, with the shiny blue body suit and yellow lightning bolt, blue wings and blue tail to prove it.
Like many Bronies boys and men who like the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic the 25-year-old college student turned out over the weekend for BronyCon Summer 2012 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, which drew 4,000 men, women, boys and girls, many in colorful wigs and costumes.
I thought about what people would say. Its creepy. Its weird. Its a ... show for little girls, said Fjordbotten, from Staten Island, N.Y. Its just a great show ... the story line, the plot, the beautiful animation.
Bronies say theyre a misunderstood lot whove gotten a bad rap from the media. Theyre all about the show, friendship, love and tolerance, and they have no bad intentions, they say.
I discovered that theres nothing to be ashamed of being a Brony, said 19-year-old James Penna of Mastic in Long Island, N.Y. People are into what theyre into.
Outside the convention center, young men danced and sang along with songs from My Little Pony cartoon that blasted from loud speakers as a video screen on a large truck showed the shows characters. One observer said it almost felt like a Grateful Dead concert.
Inside, vendors sold stuffed ponies, pony accessories, pony signs, pony hats and just about every pony item imaginable. Stars who do the shows voices signed autographs and gave speeches.
Staff members appeared to be a little overwhelmed at times. It was just more than a year ago when BronyCon attracted about 100 people to some meeting rooms in New York City. Now, there are thousands of Bronies across the country.
Hasbro released the first My Little Pony toys in 1983, and they led to television specials, a film and the first TV series from 1986 to 1987.
The brand stuck around through the years. But along came animator Lauren Faust, who was hired by Hasbro and sparked new life to My Little Pony when she created the Friendship is Magic series.
Faust had worked on The Powerpuff Girls and Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends before dreaming up the land of Equestria, where My Little Pony characters such as Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie get into all kinds of adventures.
Faust told The Associated Press at BronyCon on Saturday that she never imagined the show would be such a hit with teenage boys and young men. She said her main target was little girls, but she hoped to draw in moms and perhaps some boys with strong characters and compelling story lines.
We live in a society where saying that something is for girls is the equivalent to saying that something is stupid, or saying that something isnt worthwhile, Faust said.
I think thats awful, and I think that kind of attitude needs to be changed, she said. And these men are doing it. ... Theyre proud that theyre forward-thinking and modern enough to look past this misogynistic attitude.