Hara Arena’s last hurrah: the Dayton Comic & Toy show.

Hera Arena Dayton Ohio
Hara Arena: a pillar for memories of my childhood.

Located in Dayton, Ohio, Hara Arena initially opened as a ballroom in 1956. Expanding to become a multi-complex showroom, Hara has played host to a variety of amazing affordable events in its time. Famous bands like the Greatful Dead and Rolling Stones have performed at Hara. Year after year, the Dayton Hamvention called Hara as its home. Let’s also not forget gift shows, sporting events, or school plays that have used Hara as their canvas.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve been to Hara Arena. Having several ham radio operators in my family, I attended Hamvention for years. The largest ham radio convention worldwide, it was always a multi-day excursion full of fun and treasure hunting. One year, my uncle and cousins came down from Wisconsin to attend with us. We had such a great time digging through endless bins of cords and contraptions.

Back in the day – before Black Friday started on Thanksgiving (ugh), my mom and I would drive down to Hara Arena to attend the National Holiday Gift show. An unending maze of snowmen, wicker baskets and scented candles, I remember so badly wanting it to be over – to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Today, all I wanted was to stay at Hara as long as I could. After 60 years of family fun, Hara Arena had its last hurrah: The Dayton Comic and Toy show. Tomorrow, Hara will close it’s doors for good.

Since my return from Asia, my days are spent helping my folks move into their new house. Any free time I have, exhausted and broke, is going to setting up my own new living area while trying to decompress in small increments. Still struggling with chronic boredom though, I’ve been making it a point to attend cheap and/or free events in the area. Adventure is out there, even if it is in the form of a Corn Festival.

When I found the Dayton Comic and Toy show online, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to see Hara before it closed.

Comic and Toy show Dayton Ohio at Hera Arena
Now, for the last several years I’ve been living in Chicago. Being one of the biggest (and obviously best) cities in America, the scale of conventions there absolutely crushes the rest of the nation.

For example, C2E2 is one of my favorite annual entertainment conventions in Chicago. With a staggering attendance of 70,000 people, C2E2 is so big it has it’s own app for attendants to use during their time there.

While I knew the Comic and Toy show would be no C2E2, the one room show was a bit of a reminder that I’m in Ohio now.

We’re not in Chicago anymore, Toto.

Initially, I was a bit taken aback by the small size of the show. What was I really expecting though for a $3 entrance fee? Entering the showroom, I was pleasantly surprised at not only the number of vendors, but at the quality of nerdy merchandise for my diabolical nerdy needs.

Naturally, there were plenty of comic books. Comics featured everyone from Deadpool to Superman to that-guy-in-the-electric-green-loincloth-I’ve-never-heard-of. I admit, I’m more into the sci-fi side of the nerd kingdom. Not a big comics / superhero person myself, I came for the toys and nerdy boys.

Beyond comics, nerdy-noteworthy items included: vintage board games, Harry Potter audio book cassette tape collections, Star Wars anything-you-could-imagine, Game of Thrones trading cards, and plenty of Star Trek paraphernalia that made me quietly squeal with delight. Star Trek trading cards, action figures, movies, jewelry, posters and bubble gum packs.

There were even a few people dressed up in cosplay! Superman, Wonder Woman and the skinniest Spiderman ever were all there mingling with the guests. I even came across a member of Captain Kirk’s crew hawking some of her nerdy wares.

Star Trek Original series cosplay at the Dayton Comic and Toy show, Hera Arena
Being low on the dollars, I resisted the urge for most of the things I came across. Even the adorrrrrrrrable hand crocheted Pokemon hats. Unfortunately there are still thinks I’m weak for, and a manga from my favorite series by Clamp, XXXHolic, was one of them.  For $1, I couldn’t resist – I can easily make that much working online today.

After completing my rounds, I lingered in the showroom for a little while. I listened to the song of my people (nerds talking about nerdy things). Addicted to nostalgia, I reflected on all the memories I had from childhood visiting Hara Arena. The crazy parking situation, isles so crowded with people you could hardly spread your arms, hours with my parents helping them carry bags, and the time I begged my mom to let me get a pretzel with cheese from the vending area – and she said yes!

Leaving Hara Arena today, it was a little sad, but I’m comforted in the fact that my memories will last forever, and today’s adventure will be immortalized in this blog post.

Hara Arena, you will be missed.

Everyone is nerdy for something! If you’d gone to a Comic & Toy show, what would you have hoped to find on the tables there?



12 thoughts on “Hara Arena’s last hurrah: the Dayton Comic & Toy show.

  1. I really love events like this–they remind me (and everyone who attends them, I imagine) that we’re not alone in our nerdiness. Thanks for sharing, and for the photos. My daughter would LOVE that Pikachu hat!


  2. Candis Barbosa

    Hi! I’m from Chicago and I definitely take advantage of all of the nerd culture in the city. Although I like to go to the big cons like C2E2 and Wizard World, I would definitely enjoy a smaller con. Big cons can be very intimidating. I wouldn’t mind being able to take my time to browse comics and merchandise in their entirety. My favorite thing to find and buy at cons is comics. Specifically, ones from the 90s because you can’t find them as easily anymore.


    1. Zoom

      The bigger cons can be intimidating no doubt! It’s also harder to move around in them, but I came to peace with my sense of FOMO at them and am in a healthy place now lol

      Do you have a favorite comic from the 90s you try to look for?


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