Iowa town claims to be future birthplace of Captain Kirk

RIVERSIDE, Hieu Pham - Family ties run deep in small town America, and no more than in Riverside, Iowa, where residents each year toast its most beloved -- and fictional son -- Captain James T. Kirk.
Originally played by actor William Shatner in the legendary television and film series "Star Trek," Kirk's early life will be explored in a new movie opening this week.

Iowa town claims to be future birthplace of Captain Kirk
According to the people of Riverside, Kirk will be born here on March 22, 2228. In fact, a plaque hanging on the wall of the town's bar even marks where he will be conceived.
"We were talking about ways to promote our community," said Steve Miller, a Star Trek fan and former Riverside city councilor who led the effort to include the town in the series' lore.
Miller said "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry noted in his book that Kirk's birthplace would be a small town in Iowa, but never specified which town.
After some persuasion, Miller convinced other city leaders to proclaim Riverside as Kirk's future birthplace.
Legitimacy came later when Roddenberry gave the town a certificate of support.
That was twenty-five years ago. Since then members of the community club gather at a local bar every March 22 to sing "Happy Birthday" to Capt. Kirk and drink "Romulan" ale, a blend of blue schnapps, pineapple juice, and Sprite.
The town also hosts TrekFest in the summer, a larger celebration of Kirk's mythical birth.
This year, three actors from the original series will attend the June 26 and 27 event: George Takei (Sulu), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Walter Koenig (Chekov).
Now it appears as though Riverside might play a small role in the new "Star Trek" movie. Miller said there are rumors that the town will be mentioned specifically.
The film's website,, describes the young Kirk as a "delinquent, thrill seeking Iowa farm-boy."
Residents will also receive a special pre-screening of the movie the day before the film opens nationwide on May 7. A combination of limousines, charter buses, and Star Trek-themed snacks are planned for the event.
"I'm really hoping that Riverside will be mentioned (in the movie). That will help solidify things," said Miller.
While most of the community has embraced its futuristic identity, not everyone approves, said Tim Geerling, vice-president of Riverside Area Community Club.
"The only dismissal of Star Trek comes out of some of the old guards in town, who were there in the beginning and witnessed a festival (TrekFest) of drunken debauchery," Geerling said.
"Some are still smarting, still resentful of the humble beginnings of TrekFest."
Most regard the worldwide attention Riverside receives from Star Trek as a positive thing, Miller and Geerling said.
During TrekFest thousands flood in, providing ample opportunity for businesses there to promote their goods. The ice cream shop has a mural devoted to Star Trek, Murphy's Bar and Grill was picked as Kirk's conception place, and memorabilia can be purchased at "The Voyage Home" museum adjacent to the city's historical center.
While the town's energy is concentrated in promoting and celebrating its Star Trek connection, Geerling said there is surprisingly little interest in the show.
"People don't ever want to riff with me about the physics of Star Trek. They don't care about that," said Greeling, who used to identify as a "Trekkie" before the kinder "Trekker" moniker became available.
"I'm amazed about the conspicuous non-presence of Trekkies."
Carol Riggan, president of the community club and a TrekFest organizer, admits that she isn't a big fan.
"I'm more in to it to have fun and bring people to the community," she said.
Before TrekFest, the town celebrated River Fest. In fact, without the Vulcan costumes and the all-day screening of Star Trek episodes, the event looks no different from a small town fair, with staples such as tractors and demolition derbies still intact.
"Most of the people in Riverside think it's funny," Miller told AFP.
"There are some people who decide it's not the image they want of their community, but it's difficult now not to associate Riverside with TrekFest because it's been 25 years."
It's hard to find anyone who disagrees with Miller. A prominent sign introduces the town as "Where the Trek Begins," and its main street is full of Star Trek markers.
Behind the old hair salon is a stone pillar designating where Kirk will grow up. A model of the old Enterprise, except entitled USS Riverside, and a wooden statue of Kirk are also on display.
And if anyone wants to know how to become more involved in town, they can call the community club at 1-319-648-TREK.

Monday, May 4th 2009
Hieu Pham

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