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Aliens invade Tampa Convention Center for Scout Con 2008

Flanked by storm troopers, Christian Allyn, known to his fellow Klingons as tIn’HIch’nuj, and Richard Woods, also known as Qahoine thlolrop, wait for the verdict in the Scout Con 2008 costume competition. The Klingons, from Clearwater and Tampa, respectively, took first place.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Flanked by storm troopers, Christian Allyn, known to his fellow Klingons as tIn’HIch’nuj, and Richard Woods, also known as Qahoine thlolrop, wait for the verdict in the Scout Con 2008 costume competition. The Klingons, from Clearwater and Tampa, respectively, took first place.

TAMPA — Jacob Polk and Clay Cumbee came all the way to the Tampa Convention Center from Dade City to see characters from one their favorite movies, Star Wars.

"There was an Ewok and a storm trooper," Clay mused.

Dressed in their Boy Scout uniforms, Jacob, 12, and Clay, 13, took photos with Vader's 501st Legion, which tours sci-fi conventions in full battle gear with replica weapons of those in the movies.

Hundreds of people came out to Scout Con 2008 Saturday to talk about space and see the stars of their favorite sci-fi TV shows.

The proceeds of the miniconvention will help maintain Scout troops in low-income areas that got a huge funding cut from the state this year.

Classic actors like Erin Gray of Buck Rogers and Grace Lee Whitney of Star Trek mingled with Scouts and their excited leaders and parents to help try to bridge the gap between space curiosity and exploration.

"I'd been to a lot of events like this before," said Ted Johnson, director for the Scouts' gulf region. "And I thought it would be great to do something like this in our area."

Johnson said 90 percent of all NASA's astronauts had been in Boy Scouts, so tying the organization to sci-fi didn't seem like a stretch.

Other actors better known for their work outside of Science fiction, such as Police Academy's Michael Winslow, also participated in the event.

"I was in the Scouts back when I was in Colorado," he said. "So any time I get a call from them, I'm interested."

Winslow, who is famous for his beat-boxing and noise imitations, was sure the Scouts would get a kick out of requesting sounds from him at his performance in the afternoon.

"I always get requests," Winslow said. "That's why I know the value of hot tea with lemon."

Sunnie J'oy Planthold, dressed in Star Trek gear with matching red and white hair, greeted children as they entered the convention.

"I'm a retired teacher, so I love to come to these things to help out my kiddies," she said.

Planthold and her husband, Ralph, run the USS Gasparilla, which gathers Trekkies to do community service in the area.

"It's great to translate something I'm a fan of into something good for the entire community," she said.

Johnson couldn't agree more.

"Events like this bring together Scouts from all over, and it benefits our lower-income Scouts," he said. "I can't think of a better reason to do it."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Aliens invade Tampa Convention Center for Scout Con 2008 05/24/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 24, 2008 9:14pm]
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