Wednesday, November 18, 2009

County Trekkers commemorate DVD release of latest ‘Star Trek’ film

— Battling racism and bigotry of all kinds has always been a key element of the credo of true “Star Trek” fans everywhere.

And that was again part of the message espoused at the Best Buy store at Midway Mall Tuesday, where costumed members of a local “Star Trek” fan club displayed all manner of “Trek” memorabilia as part of a promotion for the Blu-ray/DVD release of last summer’s smash hit “Star Trek,” which re-envisioned the storied movie franchise with a story about the early days of James T. Kirk and Spock.

As the film played on a desktop computer, Thomas Heffner, who serves as commander of the Lorain County chapter of International Federation of Trekkers, talked about the group’s embracing of people ranging from the curious “who have never been exposed to ‘Star Trek’ before,” to the “hard-core fans who get into talking about how warp-drive works.”

Evidence of the enduring popularity of the “Star Trek” phenomenon was evidenced by the group’s large display of “Trek”-related books, magazines, movies, model figures and replicas of the famed Tricorder and flip-phone-like communicators.

Heffner pointed to a thin but prized booklet wrapped in a protective plastic.

“That was the first-ever concordance. Now they’re this thick,” he said, spreading his thumb and index finger apart about 3 inches.

The original concordance is especially prized by Hefner, as it is signed by Bjo Trimble, a woman who began the legendary letter-writing campaign that led to NBC-TV’s decision to bring back the 1960s “Star Trek” series.

The IFT chapter is designated as the USS Gallifrey NCC-81631; Heffner addresses fellow members Elizabeth Denham and his son, James, with military ranks and talks about other chapter members arriving by 1600 to 1700 hours (4 to 5 p.m.).

The chapter’s name derives from a storyline used by the role-playing group that involved “Doctor Who” of British sci-fi fame. “He was involved in our time travels, and his home planet was Gallifrey,” Heffner explained.

The detail with which Heffner explained the group’s imaginary world might cause some to nervously clear their throats and look for the nearest exit, but he’s fine with the “geek” label that comes his way.

“It’s OK, because we’re all about promoting (Star Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry’s dream of respecting and accepting racial, ethnic and religious diversity. And given what’s going on in Iraq right now, that seems like a great dream to promote. We’re proud to wear the uniforms.”

The Klingon and Romulan villains of the TV series and movies were always meant to serve as allegories for earthbound racism and intolerance.

On a more earthly plane, the group planned to raffle off prizes including a Blu-ray gift set of the new movie, with a percentage of the proceeds going to Elyria’s Salvation Army.

It was the group’s devotion to raising money for charities, and doing community service that appealed to Elizabeth Denham, who joined the group after meeting members at the premiere of the new “Trek” movie in May. “The charity aspect and community service is what attracted me.”

Denham, who donned Vulcan ears for the occasion, attracted a bit of attention herself earlier in the day. “I was at Dairy Mart and this woman kept staring but she never said anything.” Check out the group at or or e-mail capt_heffner81631@