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Maskers assemble: GalaxyCon Raleigh returns with new safety protocols

First, expect fewer vendors and smaller crowds. Organizers said they have reduced attendance by nearly one-third and reduced the number of celebrity guests to focus on more "in-demand stars."

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Amanda Lamb, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — After going virtual last year, GalaxyCon Raleigh will return with an in-person event at the Raleigh Convention Center this weekend.

The event, which celebrates all things comic books and pop culture, will feature celebrity guests, question and answer panels and vendors. Things will be a little different though this year due to COVID-19.

First, expect fewer vendors and smaller crowds. Organizers said they have reduced attendance by nearly one-third and reduced the number of celebrity guests to focus on more "in-demand stars."

About 22,000 people are expected over four days this year. In 2019, the event attracted 38,500 people.

This year's event will also not include any tabletop gaming, video gaming or wrestling events.

With the CDC's new recommendation that vaccinated people resume wearing masks in certain indoors situations, GalaxyCon staff and volunteers will be wearing masks this weekend, organizers said. Masks won't be required for attendees but are strongly encouraged. Some celebrities are requiring people wear a mask before approaching their table.
To encourage more social distancing, there will be wider aisles between vendors and exhibitors this year.

"We coupled these with universally accepted best practices like increased daily cleaning to include overnight sanitation fogging, the cleaning of all high-touch surfaces every hour on the hour, and the encouragement of masking, hand-washing, vaccinations and social distancing. We believe these steps will help mitigate the risk to our attendees," GalaxyCon president Mike Broder said.

Broder said Wednesday that the community that identifies with these events has been especially isolated during the pandemic and need this outlet.

"I think it's incredibly important that people get to be with people and enjoy the things they love together," Broder said.

This year's celebrity guests will include Stephen Amell ("Arrow"), Giancarlo Esposito ("The Mandolorian"), Tyler Hoechlin ("Superman & Lois") and "Star Trek" star William Shatner.

Shatner and voice actors Jodi Benson and Kevin Conroy have asked for plexiglass for their photo ops. The event said that other guests might also request plexiglass this weekend.

"We believe you will be able to remove masks for Photo Ops," organizers said.

There will also be an "American Pie" mini-reunion with Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin), Chris Owen (Sherman), Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia) and Tara Reid (Vicky) also appearing at the event.

This will be Nicholas' first fan convention since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country last year. Nicholas said he is vaccinated and planning to wear a mask with a filter at the event.

While many people might recognize Nicholas as that kid with the fast pitch from "Rookie of the Year," he is also the father of a rising star. His 9-year-old son, Nolan River, appears in M. Night Shyamalan's new thriller "Old."

Nolan River started out doing voiceover work with his father and soon started acting in front of the camera, even booking an episode of "New Girl."

"He has a natural talent for it," Nicholas said of his son, noting that the two spent two months in the Dominican Republic last year for "Old."

Nicholas has continued to act, most recently producing and staring in the film "Adverse." He is also continuing to work as a musician, developing his own children's music. Think "Baby Shark" but less annoying.

"I'm basically writing songs you would hear (someone like) Jack Johnson play with kid-friendly lyrics that might be just about something fun or it might be about learning something," Nicholas said.

This will be Nicholas' first time at Raleigh GalaxyCon. Who is he excited to see while in town? "The Mandalorian" villain Giancarlo Esposito.

"I wanted to talk to him cause he's like the first guy, like actual (live action) person that had the dark saber," he said.

GalaxyCon will be at the Raleigh Convention Center Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are still available.

Ticketholders who are no longer comfortable attending the event may roll over their ticket to the 2022 event by contacting raleigh@galaxycon.com.


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