Delaware Ghostbusters on call at Dover Comic Con

The Delaware Ghostbusters will bring their version of the Ecto-1 ambulance/hearse to Dover this weekend for the second annual Dover Public Library Comic Con. They will check out First Friday this evening and then hit the Schwartz Center for the Arts at 7 for a showing of the original film. On Saturday, the Ghostbusters can be seen in front of the library and then judging the costume contest on Legislative Mall at 1 p.m. (Submitted photo/Jeffe Rodriguez)

The Delaware Ghostbusters will bring their version of the Ecto-1 ambulance/hearse to Dover this weekend for the second annual Dover Public Library Comic Con. They will check out First Friday this evening and then hit the Schwartz Center for the Arts at 7 for a showing of the original film. On Saturday, the Ghostbusters can be seen in front of the library and then judging the costume contest on Legislative Mall at 1 p.m. (Submitted photo/Jeffe Rodriguez)

Fear not, Dover. The capital city will be free of all supernatural activity and paranormal disturbances this weekend.

The Delaware Ghostbusters will be in town for the Dover Public Library’s second annual Comic Con taking place this evening and Saturday throughout downtown.

Based on the 1984 classic comedy, the First State’s version of the paranormal pugilists will make their way to Dover, Ecto-1 and all, for various appearances throughout the weekend.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copyThe group started a couple of years ago when Jeffe Rodriguez, a longtime “Ghostbusters” fan, met up with John Hollyday of Hartly at the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey.

“We just happened to meet and realized we both lived in Delaware and started talking about the idea of starting the group,” said Mr. Rodriguez, a resident of New Castle.

Ghostbusters “teams,” as they call them, have been formed all across the country and in some parts of the world.

Their mission is mainly of a nonprofit nature, raising money for various charities through appearances.

The Delaware Ghostbusters, which also includes Mr. Rodriguez’s fiancée Sara Tjaden, are a small group and haven’t reached a point where they can go the nonprofit route yet but have hooked up with the New Jersey and Philadelphia groups for a few functions.

In fact, some of the Jersey team members will be along for the ride this weekend in Dover.

“We’ve all become very good friends,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

With proton packs in tow, the Delaware Ghostbusters made an appearance at last year’s Dover Comic Con and have been seen at the Retro Con in Philadelphia and the Middletown Galactic Con in March, where they unveiled their very own Ecto-1, a replica of the vehicle with which Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the crew drove around New York City busting ghosts.

It was a lifelong dream for Mr. Rodriguez, 28, to own an ambulance/hearse that was as close as possible to the real thing.

“I was too young to see it when it first came out but my mother had it on VHS and I just watched it over and over

Delaware Ghostbusters Sara Tjaden and Jeffe Rodriguez greet fans during a recent appearance at Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark.

Delaware Ghostbusters Sara Tjaden and Jeffe Rodriguez greet fans during a recent appearance at Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark.

again and a cartoon version came out at about same time as I started getting into the movie and I was really into the cartoon,” he said.

“Then I got a toy car that looked just like the Cadillac that the Ecto-1 is based on and I loved that thing. It was my favorite toy.”

His dream came true in October when he came across a car that a group in Oklahoma wasn’t using anymore.

While the movie vehicle is a 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor hightop ambulance, this one is a 1960 Cadillac Superior hightop ambulance.

“It was as close as I could get without going bankrupt,” said Mr. Rodriguez of the $10,000 purchase.

“The windows in the back are a bit different but besides that, it’s not too far off.”

Months of work on the vehicle followed and more still needs to be done.

“The interior still needs to be restored and it needs a paint job. But we got new wheels last week and the windows are being tinted this week to look more like it did in the movie. We’re getting there,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

“When you know what you’re looking for, I’d say it’s 40 percent accurate. If you don’t, I’d say that number is higher.”

For the most part, it is street legal, which leads to some interesting encounters on the road.

“I’ll drive it around different spots. People who know what it is tend to get pretty excited,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

“Some don’t notice me at all. Elderly people tend to get scared when they see this combination of an ambulance and hearse driving around.”

He said sometimes he himself gets scared by the reaction.

“People will occasionally start driving crazy when they see it, trying to get a picture and drive at the same time. It freaks me out,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

“I’m thinking about getting a sticker for it that says “Feel free to take a picture but drive carefully.’”

The first chance Dover will get to see them and the car will be during First Friday festivities downtown on Loockerman Street and Governors Avenue. Expect them to arrive about 5:15 p.m.

“We’ll roll in sirens blazing and we’ll check out a few of the shops and make sure they are ghost-free,” he said.

From there they will make their way over to the Schwartz Center for the Arts on State Street where the venerable theater will show the original movie starting at 7.

As they did during a showing at the Penn Cinema Riverfront in Wilmington in April, the crew will perform a few of the scenes from the movie right along with the screen.

“We’ll also stay afterward so people can take pictures with us in our gear,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

Tickets to the movie are $10 for adults and $8 for children and will be available at the door.

On Saturday, they will be with the car outside the Dover Public Library once the Comic Con starts at 10 a.m., raffling off chances for memorabilia. Proceeds will go toward the group to raise money to further restore the car and advance their dreams of making themselves a nonprofit organization that can then be used for charity purposes.

Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Hollyday also will be judges in the Comic Con costume contest set for 1 p.m. on Legislative Mall.

The Delaware Ghostbusters are always looking for new members. Mr. Rodriguez said the best way to get more information, is to search for them on Facebook and send a message.

Comic Con commotion

Continuing with the Comic Con, the first year was a surprising success, drawing an astounding 2,500 folks to the Dover Public Library.

This year, many more are expected and the area has expanded to the Schwartz, Biggs Museum, The Old State House down into parts of Loockerman and Federal streets and North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by Legislative Mall.

Stormtroopers and other costumed characters visited last year's inaugural Comic Con in Dover. (Delaware State News photo)

Stormtroopers and other costumed characters visited last year’s inaugural Comic Con in Dover. (Delaware State News photo)

Along with the Ecto-1, there will be a replica 1966 Batmobile and Mr. Hollyday will have his TARDIS from the “Dr. Who” television series on display.

Groups coming include characters in “Star Wars” and G.I. Joe costumes, the Haunt Squad and the First State Potion Masters (Delaware’s first Harry Potter Alliance Chapter).

About 50 artists will be on hand, some with connections to major comics and some who are self-published. Panel discussions will be at various venues.

As part of First Friday, there also will be two Comic Con painting events.

Artsy Fartsy on Loockerman Street, from 6 to 8 p.m., will host an instructional event where artists can choose to paint Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman on a 16- by 20-inch canvas for $15. Register ahead at squareup.com/market/artsyfartsy101D

At Uncorked Canvas, also on Loockerman Street, from 3 to 8 p.m., you’re invited to drop in and create a super hero painting on canvas.

Artists will be on site to guide you through the process. Admission and supplies are $25.

On Saturday, all events are free but check-in is required at the Information Tent at the intersection of Loockerman Plaza and Federal Street.

Registration for the costume contest on Legislative Mall will take place at a booth in front of the Dover Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be two contests starting at 1 p.m. with those ages 13 and older first followed by kids 12 and younger.

Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. when participants can join the cast of the cult favorite “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as they do the signature “Time Warp.”

A disc jockey will finish out the day on Leg Mall with a dance for ages 13 and older until 8 p.m.

The Old State House will be the site of the play “Caesar Rodney Meets Doctor Who” at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.

During the play, audiences will get the answer to the age-old question “What if aliens tried to change the course of history?”

Aside from the “Ghostbusters” showing at the Schwartz tonight, the theater will be busy Saturday.

From 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the ballroom, participants will get to build a children’s superhero costume to wear throughout the day.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the McNinch Lobby will be open for those who would like to sit quietly and read a book.

Snacks and beverages will be available for sale.

From 2 to 6 p.m. in the ballroom, published and unpublished game designers will play-test their latest creations, answer questions and perhaps check out your prototype for a new game.

In the theater at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., Comically Comical will take over with its special brand of improv laughs.

Dover Comic Con will end with a swashbuckling flourish as the Schwartz will show “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at 7:30.

Tickets, available at the door, are $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and younger.

For the exclusive online program for this year’s Dover Comic Con, click here.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is a reboot of “Fantastic Four,” Meryl Street in the music drama “Ricki and the Flash,” Jason Bateman in the thriller “The Gift” and the animated film “Shaun the Sheep.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara in the action comedy
“Hot Pursuit.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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