|17th April 2002, 02:07 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Wherever I Am, I'm There
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Greater London
Blog Entries: 1
Vulcan, Alberta. pop. 1,400
In Vulcan, Alberta, Mr. Spock presides over council meetings, the starship Enterprise greets those who would go where few have gone before, and there's a new town motto.
"Let's live longer and prosper more."
The town of 1,400, about 70 kilometres south of Calgary, is planning to go into warp drive and expand its Star Trek theme, which local residents say has brought a meteorite storm of dollars into the community.
Vulcan adopted the Star Trek theme in 1990 because its name -- taken from the Roman god of fire -- is the same as the fictional planet from whence Mr. Spock came in the original and often replayed Star Trek TV series.
Visitors can see a 12-metre replica of the Enterprise. There are Star Trek murals on the walls of many buildings. The annual Vul-CON Star Trek convention is held here. And there's the Spock Days rodeo.
"Really, we were here first, but now we're just cashing in on the fact they used our name when Gene Roddenberry created the series," said Georgie Popovitch, Vulcan's economic development co-ordinator.
A life-size cardboard cut-out of Mr. Spock, the pointy-eared second-in-command to James T. Kirk on the Enterprise, adorns council chambers with the Vulcan's expressionless demeanor. "He brings a proper sense of decorum to our meetings," Popovitch chuckled.
A furniture store has a mural on the window showing Mr. Spock in a recliner rocker. The local car dealership is having a Shuttlecraft sale. At least one restaurant is based on the Star Trek theme. Plans are to build a new tourism information booth shaped like a spaceship, and to build a Star Trek water park this summer.
But like Spock, some in the land of Vulcan question the logic of it all. Popovitch said some in the farming community think the whole concept is silly. "We still get opposition from the residents and we still have farmers who scoff and say 'Can you believe they're doing this?'" said Popovitch. "But it has become a little more acceptable because they have seen the positive economic benefits of it.
"Developing the tourism industry in our area is one way to stabilize so that when agriculture is facing some bad times, we've got something else to fall back on." But Popovitch said she doesn't expect to see farmers donning Star Trek outfits and Spock ears for lunch at the Royal Cafe. Roy and Marilynn Elmer, who own the local Stedman's store, stock a full line of Star Trek collectibles including plates, coffee mugs, figurines and Vulcan ears.
"It's not too often that people come in and don't buy a figurine and leave without a pair of Vulcan ears -- you get a lot of fun out of a pair of Vulcan ears," said Roy, decked out in the ears and Star Trek duds. He orders 4,000 pairs of the ears at a time from a Hong Kong firm.
While he can't say how much his business has increased since 1990, between 600 and 800 people sign his store's Vulcan Log each year.
"We've had people from pretty well all over the world," he said.
"We've had England, we've had Japan, lots from the States, the Bahamas and even the Netherlands."