If you see Darth Vader marching with his Stormtroopers down Charles Lindbergh Boulevard in Garden City Saturday morning at 9, don't worry, the dark side hasn't taken over Nassau County. It's simply a cosplay (costume play) parade kicking off the second annual Eternal Con at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. This pop culture convention features multiple genres from comics, movies and TV. "We have a little bit of everything from Superman to 'Star Wars,' " says Eternal Con president Frank Patz, 42, of Bay Shore. "This is like a World's Fair of geekdom."
Last year, the one-day event drew more than 3,000 people, causing the con to nearly double in size for this year and expand an extra day. And it hosts a full roster of celebrity guests:
KEN KELLY Artist Ken Kelly is known for his striking fantasy/sword and sorcery artwork that is full of motion and energy. He rose to fame doing album covers for Kiss' "Destroyer" (1976) and "Love Gun" (1977). "People are either drawn to the light side or the dark side of my work," says Kelly, 68, of Hauppauge. "I try to reach out and grab people with my art."
BRIMSTONE William Kucmierowski brought his wrestling character of Brimstone, the Guardian of the Gates of Hell, out of the ring and into the world of comics.
"There's only just so long you can stay in the wrestling industry, so I branched out and continued to brand," says Kucmierowski, 39, of Levittown. "I wanted to immortalize the character."
In addition to comics, Brimstone has his own line of plush toys, cookies, hot sauces, action figures, backpacks and even a male fragrance, "Burn."
STEVE CARDENAS Ever wonder who was behind that Red Power Ranger helmet? It's Steve Cardenas, the tae kwon do and Brazilian jiujitsu black belt and gymnast who battled aliens and monsters as the Red Power Ranger both on the TV show and in the 1995 feature film. He will be on hand to meet and greet the fans.
"It evokes a little sense of nostalgia for them," says Cardenas, 40, of Los Angeles. "It gives people a chance to relive their childhood for a few moments."
MICK FOLEY You may know him as Cactus Jack or Mankind, but either way, Mick Foley is a legend in the wrestling entertainment industry. Today he's turned his talents toward stand-up comedy. "I get reactions from fans, whether it's 112 people at the Funny Farm in Youngstown or 20,000 at Madison Square Garden," says Foley, 49, of Stony Brook. "As long as you are connecting, entertaining and making a difference, I find equal gratification in each."
DANIEL CUDMORE Standing 6-foot-6, Daniel Cudmore won't be hard to find at Eternal Con. For the man who plays Colossus in the X-Men films, the con scene is a warm environment.
When asked why he thinks people have such a thirst for mutants, Cudmore, 33, of Los Angeles, says, "The core of the X-Men story is human struggle. Each mutant is struggling with being different, which is something that totally resonates with the public nowadays. Everyone is trying to find their way."
OTHER CON ACTIVITIES No chance of getting bored at Eternal Con. Check out the pop culture car show at the main entrance or shop at more than 250 vendor tables. A cosplay contest runs Saturday night at 7 in the IMAX theater. Kids can take a class with the New York Jedi on Sunday, get a photo with cosplay groups such as the Long Island Ghostbusters or enter the "Scare Zone," a mini haunted house. Gaming tournaments, discussion panels, film screenings and movie prop exhibits round out the weekend.
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Cradle of Aviation, Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Garden City
INFO 516-900-4748, eternalcon.com
ADMISSION $20 ($12 ages 2-12 Saturday, $6 Sunday). Weekend pass: $35 adults, $16 kids