Passengers flying in and out of Pensacola can once again reach for the stars.
“I am here to announce that this is the Pensacola Intergalactic Airport, and we are looking for all kinds of travelers from all kinds of places,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson. He spoke before a crowd of a few dozen reporters, officials and oddly dressed creatures as he made the annual announcement changing the airport from international to intergalactic.
It’s all a part of Pensacon, which is set to take over the city during the last week of February. “February is sort of a ‘shoulder season’ for us, so (this time of year) we’re happy to have people come … so it works out (perfectly) for us.”
Both the city and Pensacon say they benefit from the partnership. Pensacon CEO and founder Mike Ensley says the rebranding of the airport makes a great first impression on the convention’s guests.
“As soon as they step off that plane they are immersed in the convention, which is what we really like. When David Prowse was here, (the actor who played) Darth Vader, he was looking up at the signs and (saying) ‘Look! There I am!’ They really enjoy it. It really just makes them feel very welcome when they get off that plane.”
Since 2015, the city of Pensacola has been renaming the airport during the month of February for Pensacon. Julio Diaz, Pensacon’s director of marketing and guest services, says guests of the convention are impressed with the partnership between the event and the city.
“We definitely draw visitors from (across) the U.S. and from (other) countries as well," he said. "Our reputation has continued to grow. It’s very important to us to provide a great experience to everybody who visits Pensacola. Because we want people to not just come back to Pensacon, but to come back to Pensacola as well and enjoy our community. And we have a lot of guests that tell us yeah, they want to come back here and vacation here even if they’re not coming for the convention.”
This year’s lineup of guests at Pensacon includes the usual large number of writers and artists, as well as celebrities from the world of music, movies and TV. And since this is his first Pensacon as mayor, Grover Robinson had to name his fandom. “I like the Star War stuff. I’ve liked that since I was a kid!”
Pensacon runs in various locations in downtown Pensacola from February 28 to March 1.