Eternal Con, Long Island's pop culture expo, draws thousands to Garden City museum

The 2nd annual Eternal Con is held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Danni Floridia from Massapequa came as the Flame Princess in "The Adventure Time."

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When you see Chewbacca hug it out with Batman and G.I. Joe high-five Wonder Woman in Garden City, you could only be at Eternal Con, Long Island's own pop culture convention.

Thousands packed the Cradle of Aviation yesterday for the second annual affair, which continues today.

"You get to meet people who like what you like," said Mike DiBiccardi, 25, a Hauppauge native who drove up from Virginia and dressed as Solaire of Astora from the video game "Dark Souls." "Where else can you walk up to anyone around you and strike up a friendly conversation about a movie or a video game?"

With three floors of activities, con-goers had a plethora of activities to choose from. Some sat in on the Q-and-A with actress Rebecca Mader ("Lost," "Once Upon a Time") while others got a zombie makeup tutorial or played animé "Jeopardy." Industry professionals reviewed portfolios from aspiring comic book artists while Harry Potter enthusiasts took in a wand-dueling workshop.

Four-year-old Jared Gurin of Roslyn was ready for action as he attended his first Eternal Con dressed as Captain America. "I feel powerful today," he said. "I'm going to swing my shield around."

His dad, Jason, 37, smiled at his son's zest.

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"I got him going on comic book characters since he was able to talk and walk," said Gurin, who has been collecting comics for 30 years. "I'm passing this on to him, and hopefully he'll be collecting down the road."

Fans lined up to meet actor Zach Galligan, who starred as the wide-eyed teenager Billy Peltzer in "Gremlins" and its sequel. He shared fun facts about the films, signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

"I am one of these geeks myself. I grew up on Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and Godzilla," said Galligan, 50. "Families come up to me and tell me they watch 'Gremlins' together every year like the 'The Wizard of Oz.' I may not have the largest body of work, but I'm thrilled to have been in something people remember."

Andrea Bruno, 30, of Hempstead, identifies with R2-D2 from "Star Wars."

"I'm a survivor like R2, getting through all my challenges in life," said Bruno, who dressed as the droid and marched in a costume parade on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard with her mother, Lois, 64, who came as Princess Leia.

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Fellow "Star Wars" devotee Leonard Provenzano, 59, of Mineola, was a dead ringer for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Among the perks of evoking the Jedi master, he said, "Sometimes I have women coming up to me saying, 'You're my only hope.' "

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