Shore Leave-33: An Intimate Sci-Fi Gathering
The convention, organized by the Star Trek Association of Towson, took place at the Hunt Valley Marriott Inn.
For the fourth year in a row, Pennsylvania resident Aurora Anderson joined fellow sci-fi fans at Shore Leave, a convention that took place this past weekend at the Hunt Valley Marriott Inn.
"I mostly come to see the guest celebrities, and to see friends," Anderson said. "(Shore Leave) is a great place to get together with friends that we can't see all the time."
On Sunday afternoon, Anderson was joined by friends, and fellow self-described "sci-fi geeks," many of whom asked not to be identified.
"There's still a stigma around people who go to sci-fi conventions," Anderson said. "There's this idea that people who go to these things are weird. I'm only outing myself because I'm not from the area."
But not everyone at Shore Leave-33 was scared to embrace the sci-fi fan label.
Lord Montague Jacques Fromage, a vendor selling steampunk fashion accessories, came to the convention artfully styled with light blue braids, heavy black eyeliner and tightly coiled strands of facial hair.
"Steampunk is Victorian science-fiction gone amok," Fromage said. "It's influenced by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and, to a lesser extent, Arthur Conan Doyle."
Fromage, who frequents several conventions in the Baltimore area, sold his own handmade creations, and other pieces from wholesalers who understand his "madness."
"I don't want to get into the numbers," he said. "But let's just say I'm not leaving here crying."
And over its 33 year history, Shore Leave has seen the full gamut of sci-fi personalities, as Melissa James knows.
"The first one was in July of '79," said James, a founding member of the Star Trek Association of Towson. "At the time, we weren't thinking of 33 years, we just wanted to have fun."
She said Shore Leave started out as a Star Trek convention, but expanded over the years to accommodate other sci-fi interests. Still, the Star Trek Association always tries to have at least one Star Trek celebrity attend every year. This time around, Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman were the featured Star Trek guests.
Other celebrities who made an appearance at Shore Leave-33 were Christopher Judge of Stargate SG-1, Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica and Eddie McClintock of Warehouse 13.
"Eddie and Christopher were very engaging and funny," Anderson said.
But Mike Schilling, the publicity chair for Shore Leave, said it's really the close social community that makes the convention special.
"When I was younger, I came for the celebrities. But as I got older I appreciated the social camaraderie of it," Schilling said. "Maybe we could do better if we moved downtown, but then we'll lose the intimacy of it. It's like a family reunion"
Schilling said about 1,500 fans attended the event, making it what he termed "mid-size."
Shore Leave also featured art shows, auctions, a blood drive and a poker tournament. Donations were collected to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
With the 33rd convention behind them, the Star Trek Association is looking forward to what the future may bring.
"We're counting on our younger fans to keep things going," Schilling said.