They're galloping back into your hearts this weekend.
Spurred by Valrico parent and My Little Pony fan Arlene Jacobs, the Grand Brony Gala 2 convention returns bigger and better than last year's event. It's moved to a larger hotel, expanded from one day to three days and drawn voice actors and writers from the show that's inspired an unexpectedly large fan following.
Bronies are the teen and adult fans of the animated show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a 21st-century take on the My Little Pony cartoons that started in the '80s. The "bro" and "pony" combo was coined to refer to the male fans of the show, but women often claim the "brony" title, too, and it has become a catchall for any fan.
What drives their fanaticism?
"It's such a warm, loving community," said Jacobs, who was drawn into the show by her daughter Jessica. "The show itself lends to that. It inspires people. It makes you think about doing good, wanting to help, wanting to give."
Beginning today, those fans will gather at the USF Embassy Suites to revel over all that fosters their adoration for rainbow-colored herd of ponies.
Highlights for the grander Grand Brony Gala include appearances by voice actors Cathy Weseluck (Spike) and Michelle Creber (Apple Bloom) and Lauren Faust, who has written for My Little Pony as well as the Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
Opening ceremonies kick off Friday morning and each day will include two shows. There will be a dance party with a live band tonight and a mystery show followed by the gala on Saturday night. Sunday will be dedicated to the show's youngest fans.