- Associated Press - Monday, October 9, 2017

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - It’s not often you see a Ghostbuster chatting with a Star Wars storm trooper while the Incredible Hulk is participating in a lip-sync competition on a nearby stage.

That scene typified the fun atmosphere and colorful attendees of the fifth annual Geek Gathering, which concluded Sunday.

The two-day weekend event at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum attracted a variety of people and costumes including fans of comic books, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, anime and pop culture.

“It’s a great experience,” Jeremy Cravens said while enjoying his first year in charge of the event. “There are so many smiling faces on the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Geek Gathering was created by John and Cori Alsbrooks, but they handed over the reins to Cravens this year when they relocated to California.

Will South was among a team of three Ghostbusters who were fully decked out in uniform, including the proton pack on their backs.

“It’s a good hobby to have,” South said. “It’s definitely fun, and the kids get a big kick out of it.”

Bryan Rogers was dressed as a storm trooper, but frequently teams up with the Ghostbusters, which prompts some entertaining reactions.

“I was at a service station once in a Ghostbuster uniform and had a guy ask me to come out and check his house out,” Rogers said. “He wasn’t kidding at all. He was serious.”

South said geek gatherings always are good times. “I recommend it to everybody.”

The men said the costumes can get hot. South remembers dressing as the Penguin from “Batman” one year and regretting it.

“It was too hot,” he said. “All that makeup was melting off of me.”

Rebecca Culver was decked out in gear from the South Korean boy band BTS.

“Most people don’t know about them, but slowly America’s finally discovering them,” Culver said. “I like boy bands. It’s fun to wear their stuff, and when you find someone else who likes the same band, you’re both excited.”

For Chris Parker, nobody competes with Superman. He said his reasons for liking him go beyond his superhero abilities.

“His biggest ability is his heart,” Parker said. “He never gives up. He’s always going to find a way.”

Parker said gatherings such as this weekend’s help to spread the pop culture of superheroes. He said every person finds that one superhero they relate to.

“At the end of the day, Superman is what I gravitated toward,” Parker said.

The Geek Gathering also has an important cause. The event is a fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Shoals.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters Director Gina Mashburn said $2 from each admission ticket goes toward the organization, and there was a silent auction with all proceeds going toward the organization. She said organizers approached Bib Brothers/Big Sisters about providing the event as a fundraiser five years ago.

“We so much appreciate the Geek Gathering,” Mashburn said. “They do the event and all we have to do is set up our booth. That’s a blessing to have a fundraiser and not have to spend time organizing it, so we can focus on the kids and recruiting volunteers.”


Information from: TimesDaily, https://www.timesdaily.com/

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