Photo by Kelly White
Natalie Danilos, 23, of Evergreen Park, dressed as Poison Ivy, alongside her friend, Brianna Mooney, 23, of Evergreen Park, dressed as Zantanna, at "FantaSciFest: Channeling your Inner Nerd," a one-day festival of comics, fantasy and pop culture on Saturday. The free event tied together fantasy, science fiction and festival at the Evergreen Park Senior Center, 9547 S. Homan Ave.
By Kelly White
Local residents were invited out to celebrate their sci-fi heroes last weekend.
For the first time, the Evergreen Park Recreation Department hosted "FantaSciFest: Channeling your Inner Nerd," a one-day festival of comics, fantasy and pop culture. The free event tied together fantasy, science fiction, and festival, and was held at the Evergreen Park Senior Center, 9547 S. Homan Ave.
"I'm so excited about the FantaScifest,” said Pyeisha Allen, director of the Evergreen Park Youth Department. “It's great to be part of such a unique event. We have kids and young adults in Evergreen Park with a variety of interests and it is our pleasure to develop events like these to include everyone.”
Attendees were encouraged to dress in costumes at the family friendly event that featured genre vendors, CosPlay, Dungeons and Dragons, games, face painting, film program on a 16mm film projector , live musical entertainment, panel discussions, superhero visits, photo opportunities, craft vendors and more.
The Evergreen Park Youth Department also had a food tent out in the parking lot and served hot dogs, snacks and refreshments.
“ This is a lot of fun to see all of this come together,” said Julius Fassl, FantaSciFest entertainer and vendor.
The idea for FantaSciFest sparked from the Evergreen Park Recreation Department Candlelight Theatre Program.
“ To be very honest, some of the young adults who have participated in the Candlelight community theatre program and I were having a bite to eat at a local restaurant after one of our performances of Ordinary People last September,” said Glenn Pniewski, the public information officer for Evergreen Park Recreation’s Department. “We got to talking about the different Fan Fests in the area. At some point, one of them asked, ‘What if we could do something like that in Evergreen Park?’”
Pniewski brought the idea to the Recreation Department and checked in with Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton.
“ He is all about doing new things,” Pniewski said. “He green-lit the whole project, and away we went.”
“ Not every kid or young adult plays football or baseball,” Sexton said. “We like to have events that appeal to all ages, the young and the young at heart. And we like to have a broad range of events that appeal to every interest. We're happy to roll out FantaSciFest, and other special events to appeal to our residents and guests."
Helping in the planning process in the event were Natalie Danilos, 23, of Evergreen Park; Andrew Kenny, 21, of Oak Lawn; Brianna Mooney, 23, of Evergreen Park; and Tom Jakubczak, 21, of Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.
“ We figured this would be a nice introduction to the community of all things nerdy,” Mooney said.
Mooney chose to dress as Zatanna Zatara, a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics.
“ Zantanna spent time searching for her identity away from her father,” Mooney said. “She also has had relationship issues. I feel she is really relatable for a lot of people.”
Because it was the first year of the event, village officials said they are open to any suggestions to enhance it for next year. Due to the popularity and expected growth of the event, it is also a consideration to move it to the village’s new Community Center next year, as well.
“ This is a very select interest group,” Pniewski said. “Our unofficial motto is: Celebrate Your Inner Nerd. This is something different for Evergreen Park, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone.”
“ It’s local and it’s great,” said Wren Grey, 16, of Evergreen Park.