Carl Sheldon had a mission Friday to boldly go where he has never has gone before: MegaCon.
A dedicated "Star Trek" fan for most of his life but a first-time MegaCon participant, Sheldon traveled from Vermont to join this weekend's festivities at the Orange County Convention Center.
As he walked through the show area, the white-haired, round-faced Sheldon was stopped to pose for pictures. Sheldon, 70, bears an uncanny resemblance to James Doohan, who played engineer Scotty on the original "Star Trek" series.
"I've reached the age where it's justified," Sheldon said.
Called the largest comic-book, anime, gaming and multimedia event in the Southeast, MegaCon — short for Mega Convention — is a geek-culture paradise filled with memorabilia sales, photo ops with celebrities, autograph sessions and panel discussions.
The event, which continues through Sunday, attracts thousands of fans and fanatics from around the globe, many of whom dress as their favorite characters from movies, TV shows, video games and Japanese animation.
A big draw this year is a reunion of the cast from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Throughout the weekend, "Next Generation" actors including Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton and Wil Wheaton will appear on various panels. And on Saturday night, the entire cast will appear at a "Next Generation" spectacular.
"Next Generation" premiered in 1987, 18 years after the original "Star Trek" series starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy left the air. During its seven-season, 178-show run, "Next Generation" gained a huge following of devout fans. It was followed by four feature-length films.
Mega-fans Fred Lowry and his daughter Vanessa, 26, wore custom-made "Next Generation" uniforms to MegaCon Friday.
"My mom made them," said Vanessa, who found the pattern on eBay.
As a boy, Lowry watched the original "Star Trek." His daughter got hooked on "Next Generation," and now the two share a love for the sci-fi series — including the films, many of which they saw during midnight showings.
While at MegaCon, the Lowrys planned to sit in on panel discussions and get their photos with Stewart and Brent Spiner, who played the android Data on "Next Generation."
Erin Hart started watching "Next Generation" when she was a kid. Now 26 and married, Hart continues to adore all things "Star Trek." After all, resistance would be futile.
"It's a good show," said Hart, who added there's usually an episode playing in the background at her home in Tampa. Hart said she's looking forward to seeing the entire cast Saturday night during the special "Next Generation" event.
"I'm excited to see everyone in one place," said Hart.
Hart's husband, Cory Beyer, also a "Star Trek" fan, tagged along Friday. While his wife wore a "Star Trek" commander uniform, Beyer had on a blue shirt and dark pants.
"I guess I'm just not that dedicated," Beyer said.
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