It's Thursday morning in Las Vegas and Star Trek is pretty much everywhere you look at the Rio Suites, new home to Creation's Official 45th Anniversary Star Trek Convention. At 7:30, people in Trek costumes, t-shirts and/or makeup can be found at breakfast or gambling, checking out the dealers' room, sipping coffee at Starbucks or buying/picking up tickets to the wide array of events, photo opportunities, parties, seminars and autograph signings on the schedule. is on hand and will, throughout the weekend, serve as the eyes and ears for those who couldn't make it to Vegas. We'll slip behind the scenes, sneak to the front of the stage, eavesdrop on everything we see and hear, and report back to you -- in words and pictures.

The show will kick off in earnest at 1 p.m. with Garrett Wang taking the stage in the massive-massive main ballroom, but things are, as noted, already bustling. The highlight so far? William Shatner is in the house, roaming the dealers' room and interviewing fans of interest for his upcoming document special and possible series, Fan Addicts. Shatner is, as usual high-energy, but he's also incredibly warm with a trio of sisters, one of whom is quite overwhelmed meeting him. "Don't be nervous," Shatner says soothingly as he wraps her in a hug.

Familar Trek names signing in the dealers's room include Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Celeste Yarnall, Felix Silla, Garrett Wang, Jonathan Frakes, Lawrence Montaigne. Non-Trek signees include Richard Hatach, Herb Jefferson and Richard Kiel.

A few minutes before 1, Creation co-CEO Adam Malin takes the stage in the main room. He declares the 45th anniversary convention officially open. He then asks how many attendees are at their first-ever convention, and lots of hands go up. Hands go up again as Malin asks for those who've been attending for 10, 20, 30 and 35 years. The crowd is a decidedly welcome mix of generations, spanning from grandparents to babies in strollers, and everything in between.

Now it's Garrett Wang's turn on stage. He hums the Voyager theme song, then disses the TNG theme. "Oh, my goodness," he notes. "There are SO many people here." He then proceeds to talk about Voyager, offering up amusing and serious ancedotes, and then takes questions from the audience. Wang does a nice job amping up the crowd for the day ahead.

At about 2 p.m. Malin leads a panel with 1960's TOS guest stars Lee Meriwether ("That Which Survives"), Clint Howard ("The Corbomite Maneuver") and Yvonne Craig ("Whom Gods Destroy"), who vividly and affectionately recount their Trek experiences. Meriwether and Craig also share tales about Batman; Meriwether played Catwoman in the Batman movie, while Craig was Batgirl on the old series. Howard notes that his actor father taught him about the craft, while "God gave me an interesting face," and that from his mother's side, he gained the gift of gab. "It also helped," he said, "to have an older brother going through similar experiences to me." His brother, of course, is acclaimed director Ron Howard, who's directed him in many films.

Meanwhile, over in another room, Trek author and blogger Larry Nemecek is talking to a rapt audience. His main subject is how Star Trek really came back to life in 1986, when the groundwork was laid for TNG. According to Nemecek, "1986 was the biggest transition year for Trek since 1966." And he makes a strong case for that statement.

And so it goes. Other stage appearances include Eric Menyuk and Olivia d'Abo, Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer, Beverly Washburn and Jack Donner and Michael Forest. David Gerrold talks about the TAS episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles." There's a No-Minimum Bid auction, with valuable items selling for shockingly reasonable prices. And events will go deep into the evening with a bingo champagne bash, a party at the Voodoo Lounge at the top of the Rio, karaoke and more.

Check back tomorrow for a recap of Friday's events.


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