Zealous Fans in Costume Kick of San Diego Comic-Con 2016

The pop culture and comic book convention runs from July 21 through July 24 in the heart of downtown San Diego

Donning costumes, capes and lots of makeup, zealous fans poured into the San Diego Convention Center Thursday for the first day of San Diego Comic-Con International 2016 – and even San Diego’s mayor got in on the fun.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, along with Councilmember Todd Gloria and other city leaders, held a brief news conference Thursday morning at the Convention Center to celebrate the 47th year of massive pop culture event.

The city leaders each wore “Star Trek” costumes, Faulconer opting for a yellow outfit resembling the one worn by William Shatner’s iconic character, James T. Kirk.

“We are ready to take this convention where no convention has gone before!” Faulconer said to the cheering crowd.

The mayor said it is Comic-Con’s “spirit of inclusion” that has made the convention a huge success in San Diego for nearly five decades.

“As we see here today, people of all ages from all over the world are here to enjoy Comic-Con,” said Faulconer.

“Thank you for coming. San Diego, may you all live long and prosper,” he added, borrowing the famous phrase from “Star Trek.”

Attendees began lining up for Day 1 of Comic-Con bright and early – especially in the long line for Hall H, the large room inside the Convention Center known for its flashy, star-studded panels and high-profile, big studio screenings.

Fans filed into the Convention Center, eyes wide with excitement.

As the “Star Trek” franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary, the mayor wasn’t the only one in garb inspired by the series. Other big-name TV shows and movies also influenced many of Thursday's costumes.

Comic-Con attendee Rebecca Welch, of Los Angeles, sported a costume inspired by “Star Wars.”

Welch told NBC 7 this marks her third time at Comic-Con, and she plans to wear a different costume every day of the event. She said she spent four months crafting her costumes for this year’s big convention.

Joelle Sullivan-McNew flew to San Diego from Texas for Comic-Con. The five-time attendee told NBC 7 she get in the lengthy line around the Convention Center for Hall H each year, waiting to get into the most highly sought-after panels. She got in line at 1 a.m. Thursday before Day 1 even began.

Conrad and Trey Agromont also waited in the Hall H line Thursday. They told NBC 7 they were most excited for the “Game of Thrones” and “Walking Dead” panels, as they are devoted fans of the popular shows. They said sleeping over and camping out in the Hall H line was worth it for the experience.

San Diego resident Walter Prentice, decked out in an elaborate handmade "Star Wars" themed costume, said he loves attending the event and experiencing the energy of Comic-Con.

“I love making kids smile when they see my costume,” Prentice told NBC 7.

Meanwhile, downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter just outside the Convention Center buzzed with energy as well, with enormous activations and interactive zones lining the streets promoting movies, TV series and other pop culture media.

Fans could enter many of the displays, including a zone dedicated to NBC’s new time travel series, “Timeless,” which premieres this October on the network. The “Timeless” activation included a makeshift time machine that attendees could walk through to feel as if they were part of the show.

Another activation along Harbor Drive was dedicated to Comedy Central’s long-running animated series, “South Park,” which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The replica of the snow-capped town in the series – and the quirky characters – became a popular spot for fans to stop and snap a photo.

Thursday’s programming lineup included plenty of must-see panels and workshops as fans – programs in hand – headed to their destinations within the Convention Center.

Comic-Con was born in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in the heart of San Diego. Over the decades, the “little event that could” has grown into a behemoth, taking over the Convention Center, neighboring hotels and downtown San Diego for a long weekend each summer.

Comic-Con’s fervent fans typically attend the convention in elaborate costumes, transforming the city into a metropolis straight out of the pages of fantasy and science fiction. The event has also become famous for sneak peeks of major studio movies and popular TV shows, as well as a steady stream of celebrity sightings.

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