Choosing a starting point to describe Saturday night’s Guest of Honor banquet (Hyatt Regency VI–VII, 7PM) could take until next year’s Dragon Con. Beginning with the emcee, Stargate SG-1’s Gary Jones, referring to the city as “Stargate Atlanta,” the evening offered two hours of laughs, tears, and poignant moments.
After a prelude mini-concert by electro-swing band Good Co., Jones brought out actor and voice performer Garry Chalk and joined him in a brief set of improvisational comedy music. Jones then introduced Regina Kirby, Dragon Con’s Senior Director of Programming, who presented the award to the Artist Guest of Honor, Argentinian fantasy artist Ciruelo Cabral. Dave Cody, Dragon Con Co-Chairman and Gaming Senior Director, followed by presenting the Literary Guest of Honor award to English author Peter Hamilton.
For the Media Guest of Honor award, Jones brought up civil rights icon and US Congressman John Lewis, who presented the award to iconic Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols. After accepting the award—and pointing out to Lewis that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not “ask” her to stay in the role of Lt. Uhura, he “told” her—she was asked to stay on stage and a chair provided, to which she said, “They told me to sit down and shut up.” After the laughter died down, author Bill Fawcett introduced Atlanta City Council member Michael Bond, who presented Nichols with a proclamation that declared Saturday, September 5, 2015, as “Nichelle Nichols Day” in the city of Atlanta. Nichols was reluctant to let the plaque out of her hands.
Next to present was author Peter David, 2007 recipient of the Julie Award, who gave the 2015 award for universal achievement spanning multiple genres to Caroll Spinney, better known to millions as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. Caroll spoke about growing up being made fun of for his name and for playing with puppets, of meeting Jim Henson and winning him over with a bad puppet show, and of spending 46 of his 81 years entertaining countless children with his work.
The final award, the Hank Reinhardt Fan Award, was presented by Dragon Con President Pat Henry to the late Eugie Foster, sci-fi and fantasy author and former Editor/Director of the Daily Dragon. Her husband, Matt, accepted the award on her behalf.