Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday February 21st 2017

Archives

The Princess of Pensacon

By Jennifer Leigh

Last year was a rough one for fans when it came to the deaths of icons. One of the hardest blows was the death of Carrie Fisher who passed away on Dec. 27.

Fisher, of course, was famous for her role as Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” a role she reprised in 2015 with “The Force Awakens.” Her other movie credits include “The Blues Brothers,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and “Hannah and her Sisters.” She was also a prolific writer and mental health advocate.

“She was ‘our princess,’” said LaVonne French, Parjai Squad Leader of the local 501st Legion, a Star Wars cosplay organization. “Fisher’s portrayal of this iconic character was of a strong, no nonsense, kick-butt, female. Indeed, she was seen as a role model for many.”

In recent months, the character of Princess Leia has been used in protest signs and social media memes. As French said, the character put her personal tragedies aside to focus on serving the Rebellion.

“A sign of a true leader,” French said.

The same is true of Fisher, who used her personal struggles with drug addiction and mental health illnesses to help others cope. She spoke openly about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and therapy on talk shows, in books and even on Twitter.

“Fisher will be remembered not only for her brilliant writing and wonderful sense of humor, but she will also be remembered for showing incredible strength in her personal life,” French said. “Especially with her struggle with mental health issues. She was very open and honest about this—she did not hide it from the public.”

For years, the Parjai Squad has been donating their time to local organizations, bringing a little bit of the Dark Side to charity events and showcasing the costuming talents of the group. It’s only fitting that the organization would find some way to honor Fisher. So they came up with a silent auction to benefit the Hotel for Dogs and Cats, a non-profit no-kill shelter.

Any fan of Fisher knows she would approve of this choice.

“As we all know, Ms. Fisher had a constant companion, Gary, her beloved French bulldog,” French explained. “Gary accompanied her everywhere—events, lectures, television appearances, movie premieres. He was family. Who among us doesn’t consider their four-legged companions as family? My husband and I adopted our Oliver from the hotel several years ago, so I can speak from experience that this is a wonderful organization.”

The Parjai Squad will be holding a silent auction of a custom carded Gary action figure, with all of the proceeds going to Hotel for Dogs and Cats. You can stop by the 501st booth on the vendor floor at Pensacon.

“The maker of this figure was thrilled that an animal rescue organization would benefit from money raised through this fundraiser,” French said. “This silent auction will be going on through the duration of the convention, Feb. 17 through Feb. 19.”

And because it’s Pensacon, the Rebel Legion is planning a Princess Leia cosplay shoot for Sunday, Feb. 19 at 11:30 a.m. open to anyone attending Pensacon in Leia costume (she does wear more than the gold bikini, FYI).

“It’s our way of honoring the life of this very special woman, and the role that she will always be remembered for,” French said.

PRINCESS LEIA COSPLAY PHOTO SHOOT AT PENSACON
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
WHERE: Poseidon’s Bay Grassy Area (located in the rear parking lot of the Pensacola Bay Center)

————————

PENSACON 2017
WHEN: 1 p.m.-12 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m.-12 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
WHERE: Pensacola Bay Center, 201 E. Gregory St.
COST: $35-$45 for day passes. $75 for weekend pass
DETAILS: pensacon.com

————————

WHAT NOT TO MISS
Pensacon is a sensory overload of sights and sounds from all of your favorite characters. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the packed schedule of panels and events, but here’s a few picks you should not miss. To create your own personalized schedule, download the Pensacon app in the App Store or Google Play.

NOISE COMPLAINT
The cosplay tap dancing group Noise Complaint is always a must-see at Pensacon. Tap dancing to modern music as characters from video games, cartoons and more, the Jacksonville-based group brings a lot of joy and energy to every performance space.
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
WHERE: Rex Theatre Main Stage (Friday), Poseidon’s Bay Stage (Saturday and Sunday)

PENSACON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
Pensacola Little Theatre is hosting the third annual Pensacon Short Film Festival, featuring a selection of science fiction, horror, fantasy, comic books and animation.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
WHERE: Pensacola Little Theatre Main Stage

HENRY WINKLER
Yes, the Fonz is at Pensacon. Listen to Henry Winkler discuss his long and diverse career in movies and TV during his panel.
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
WHERE: Saenger Theatre Main Stage

STAR WARS CAST PANEL
There’s no such thing as small parts. Hear “Star Wars” cast members such as Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader) and David Ankrum (Wedge) discuss being a part of the George Lucas film.
WHEN: 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18
WHERE: Pensacola Little Theatre Main Stage

PENSACON COSPLAY CONTEST
See all of the best cosplays of Pensacon parade down the Saenger Theatre stage. Last year, the Saenger was full so be sure to get there early for a good seat.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
WHERE: Saenger Theatre Main Stage

STRANGER THINGS CAST PANEL
As you anxiously wait for season two of “Stranger Things,” hear some of the stars from the show discuss the series. No mouth breathers allowed.
WHEN: 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
WHERE: Saenger Theatre Main Stage

———————————————————

PENSACON AFTER HOURS

VOLTAIRE AND THE TOMB OF NICK CAGE
WHAT: Official Pensacon concert featuring Voltaire and Tomb of Nick Cage
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: Free for 21 and up, $5 for under 21
DETAILS: vinylmusichall.com

ALL WEEKEND LONG
The party doesn’t stop when the convention closes. Head downtown to these participating bars and restaurants and get immersed in your favorite fandom with themed parties, special drinks and menu items.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT & WIZARDRY
WHERE: The Fish House, 600 S. Barracks St.

STAR TREK SCENES
WHERE: Atlas Oyster House, 600 S. Barracks St.

STAR WARS CANTINA
WHERE: The Deck Bar, 600 S. Barracks St.

I WENT TO HOPJACKS AND THINGS GOT STRANGE
WHERE: Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen & Taproom, 10 S. Palafox

THE TIN COW: I WANT TO BELIEVE
WHERE: The Tin Cow, 102 S. Palafox

SUICIDE SQUAD: GOTHAM STYLE
WHERE: Beef O’Brady’s, 22 S. Palafox

THE BIG TWO: VILLIAN & ANTI-HERO
WHERE: Hub Stacey’s, 312 E. Government St.