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LIers ‘geek’ out with robots, costumes at convention

Attendees at the two-day Long Island Geek Convention at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Hauppauge socialize with other self-proclaimed geeks, play board games, attend panel discussions and Q&As, get autographs from sci-fi movie stars and show off elaborate costumes. On its first day, Saturday, April 22, 2017, organizers said they expect as many as 1,000 to attend. Credit: Ed Betz

John Endres drove his 2003 Ford Explorer to the Hyatt Regency hotel in Hauppauge Saturday — his wife, Ann Marie, in the passenger seat and a pair of motorized R2D2 replicas in the back.

Endres doesn’t often take his 3-foot-tall reproductions of the beloved Star Wars robot out of his garage in Selden, where he spent years building them. But Saturday was the first day of the Long Island Geek Convention, an annual celebration of all things science fiction and fantasy, and a place where he knew his remote-controlled robots would be warmly received.

“It’s fun for me, but I enjoy the fact that it makes other people happy, too,” said Endres, 50, who works at a car dealership in West Islip.

Organizers said perhaps as many as 1,000 will attend the two-day convention to socialize with other self-proclaimed geeks, play board games, attend panel discussions and Q&As, get autographs from sci-fi movie stars and show off elaborate costumes.

“I’m much more confident when I’m in costume,” said Rebecca Fox, 15, who said her stuffed tail and pointy ears were an homage to one of her favorite Pokémon characters, Eevee.

Fox, a sophomore at Deer Park High School, said she is often shy in her daily life, but not when she puts on one of her many sci-fi-inspired outfits.

“It’s cool to become someone else for a while,” she said.

Giving Long Islanders a chance to briefly inhabit whatever identity they please is a key appeal of the Geek Convention, according to Ken Deep, 46, one of its founders.

“They can be geeky and not be judged,” said Deep, a special-education teacher who lives in Ridge.

For Tim Grogan, 53, that meant showing up Saturday in a green faux-velvet jacket and matching top hat, plaid green pants and an orange paisley vest — an outfit inspired by the titular character from “The Wizard of Oz,” he said.

“I just like the feel of getting away from it all without going anywhere,” Grogan, a TV salesman from Massapequa, said of the convention.

“It’ll give you a little break from the troubles in the world.”

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