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Conan O'Brien's fascination with Vulcan, Alta., prompts parade marshal invite

Conan O'Brien arrives at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) Conan O'Brien arrives at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
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A podcast mention of the southern Alberta town of Vulcan, and its embracement of all things Star Trek, has prompted festival officials to invite Conan O'Brien to lead its parade.   

Vulcan Tourism & Trek confirms an invitation has been extended to the former late night talk show host turned podcast host to be the parade marshal for the 30th anniversary of Vul-Con — Vulcan Alberta's Star Trek Convention — in July.

The Jan. 4 episode of Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend involved an interview with Jill, an Alberta-based fan of the show instead of a celebrity.

When O'Brien asked Jill where she was in the world, the host was fascinated to discover that the Albertan lived on a farm outside of a town that shared the name of the home planet of the character Spock, portrayed by Leonard Nimoy, in the television series Star Trek and the films that followed.

"The town is called Vulcan?" questioned O'Brien of Jill. "Tell us about Vulcan. Paint a picture for us."

"I don't know if you guys are Star Trek fans, but the town has kind of taken on the Star Trek theme," said Jill of the town of approximately 2,000 people.

Mural in the town of Vulcan in southern Alberta. (file)

O'Brien, and his podcast co-hosts Sona Movsesian and Matt Gourley, appeared enthralled by the connection with the series. "Wait, you're telling me the town is leaning into it?" sought O'Brien. "And it has a Star Trek theme?"

After learning that the town has a statue of the USS Enterprise — the starship captained by the character James T. Kirk played by William Shatner — and hosts Vul-Con and Spock Days, summer festivals attended by fans in costume, the hosts became both amused and bewildered.

"To be honest, I'm from Kirk, Massachusetts and we didn't lean into this at all," said O'Brien during the podcast interview. "You guys are from Vulcan and you've lost your minds!"

The former host of Conan, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien struggled to comprehend, to the amusement of his co-hosts, the community's approach.

"This is unbelievable to me that a town has surrendered its dignity like this. This is incredible"

The podcast hosts erupted in laughter when they later learned the Star Trek-inspired festival takes place at the same time of year as a local rodeo, resulting in encounters between Klingons and cowboys on the town's main street.

"Boy, do I have a picture of where you live," O'Brien said to Jill, after referring to Vulcan as a real-life version of 'a child's bedroom.'

"And I'll be coming to Vulcan. I want you to tell the people I'll be coming."

O'Brien would not be the first celebrity to visit the town of Vulcan. Nimoy participated in the event in 2010 as have numerous Star Trek authors and actors over the years.

Leonard Nimoy waves to fans in Vulcan, Alta., April 23, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jeff McIntosh)

Vulcan is located roughly an hour's drive, approximately 90 kilometres, southeast of Calgary. The 2023 Vul-Con is scheduled for July 28-30.

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