By Mike Medeiros
Welcome to the Spirit of Trek, a weekly column where we identify and celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s vision by discovering how its messages have started to permeate throughout humanity’s collective consciousness by looking for it on the Internet and within popular culture. Star Trek isn’t only about exploring the galaxy, it’s all about people living and working in space. With that life come the hardships and triumphs, the defeats and the victories, and as any redshirt can attest to the severity of their losses, and the magnificent of their celebrations. This article is dedicated to one of these celebrations: First Contact Day.
First Contact Day celebrates Zephram Cochrane’s historic flight of Earth’s first warp propelled craft, heralding the Vulcans to land in Bozeman, Montana to initiate first contact. This was concrete proof that we are not alone in the universe, and marked the first steps humanity took into this unexplored frontier. For Star Trek, this is the event that started it all.
It may seem silly that we are celebrating an event that first of all is fictional, and second of all hasn’t even occurred yet. However, we’re Star Trek fans; we go to conventions and cosplay; so of course, we’re going to party like it’s 2063.
What exactly is a First Contact Day Celebration? Are there antimatter fireworks? Are gifts exchanged? Is there a parade complete with marching bands? In Voyager, we learned that Earth children were typically given the day off from school. However, in that same episode, Neelix taught us that it is ok to observe the anniversary in our own unique way and planned his celebration for the Voyager’s crew around food (cheese pierogies), rock and roll music on Tom’s jukebox, and a reenactment of that historical moment shared between a Vulcan and human courtesy of Tuvok.
Fifty years before that fateful event, Star Trek fans celebrate it in a variety of ways. For some fans, First Contact enables them to show their appreciation for Star Trek. For others, it’s a way to connect with other fans. And for others, it marks a goal for humanity to strive towards. Some people celebrate the occasion with a Star Trek marathon, while others will watch the film with the same name. Others will gather with their friends and associates. If you’re in Germany, you may want to attend a First Contact Day Celebration in Gieben with Bill Blair, who holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Special Effect Make-up Characters Portrayed in a Career,” many of which appeared in Star Trek.
The fans are not the only people throwing First Contact Day celebrations. Star Trek Online celebrated the event last year with a special mission, a new Enterprise and crew, and a Phoenix starship pet. This year, Star Trek Online is planning another event, although what it will entail remains to be seen. Other organizations such as Think Geek and Star Trek.com had First Contact Day events, giveaways, or contests planned for last year. What these companies have up their sleeve this year is sure to be memorable.
First Contact Day is another way the Spirit of Trek is being kept alive. So join me on Friday April 5th in celebrating everything Star Trek has brought, what it means, and how it is helping to shape our future to fulfill the vision for humanity that Gene Roddenberry wanted for all us.
The time has come to wrap up this week’s column. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover how the Spirit of Trek has started to permeate throughout our culture with the hope that one day, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for humanity’s future will become a reality. If you come across something that you believe embodies the Spirit of Trek on the Internet or within popular culture, please do not hesitate to share it with me. I may discuss it in a future article. Live long and prosper.
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