By John Soltes / Editor in Chief
PARSIPPANY (Aug. 18, 2010) — They came. They saw. They spread their middle fingers and ring fingers far apart.
Star Trek fans descended on the Hilton in Parsippany Aug. 13-15 for the annual East Coast sci-fi convention hosted by Creation Entertainment. Revelers disposed of their disposable income on rare merchandise and celebrity autographs, while Star Trek actors mingled with the hundreds of people who attended.
Friday night's highlight was a visit from George Takei, Sulu from "Star Trek: The Original Series," or "TOS" to the those who know the difference between a Klingon and Borg. Takei, who is also known from his stints on "The Howard Stern Show" and "Heroes," talked with fans for hours. His autograph — costing $30 — was the keepsake of the first night. Spectators lined the corridor of the Hilton, some waiting for hours.
Takei, an affable presence, likes to take his time with each of his fans. This is great when meeting him, a little time-consuming for those waiting in line. However, of the devotees who were either visiting for the night or attending the entire three-day convention, waiting was not a problem. Conventions are places for like-minded people to come together and bow before the gods that brought them there. It's not for everyone, but for those people who are delighted, there is likely nothing better in the world.
After Takei, attendees could enjoy the Friday night Star Trek Rat Pack show, featuring Max Grodenchik, Vaughn Armstrong, Jeffrey Combs, Casey Biggs and Armin Shimerman. The Star Trek actors refashioned old standards to include funny quips about their individual stints on each of Star Trek's TV incarnations. It was a fun, relaxed night.
The weekend continued with several other stars from the era of "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Vendors were set up, selling T-shirts sporting pictures of Spock and autographs of just about every name under the sun. One interesting stand sold hand-painted Christmas ornaments that could be personalized. The subjects were less Santa Claus and the North Pole and more Capt. Kirk and the USS Enterprise.
Sunday's big draw was Jeri Ryan, who played Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager." For her one-hour question-and-answer session, the entire ballroom of the Hilton was filled to near capacity. Following her back-and-forth with the fans in the audience, she signed autographs for the hefty sum of $55. Even though conventions are special events, they still dip into the pockets of even the most devoted fans. The price for admission tickets, plus autograph tickets and photo opportunities racks up quickly. Many weekenders availed themselves of the cheaper option: a convention pass that gave them a spot at the front of the line, admission and a scribble from one of their favorite stars.
And if 2010's convention wasn't thrilling enough, a poster plugged next year's East Coast event, also planned for the Hilton in Parsippany. Expect more of the same — and that seems alright, indeed.
Call John at 201-438-8700