As captain of a local Star Trek club here in Las Vegas, we have been privileged to have the opportunity hold our regular meetings at Star Trek The Experience for years, where we have made lots of friends and grown to love The Experience and her crew. Now after the millions of visitors, and mission upon mission completed, the time has come to say goodbye.
On Monday September 1st, 2008, over 1500 fans gathered in the Space Quest Casino inside the Las Vegas Hilton, to pay their final respects and observe the final decommissioning ceremony of Star Trek The Experience. This was led off by the final 27 lucky fans that took part in the final missions of Klingon Encounter and Borg Invasion 4D rides. After their final run through, these VIP guests were brought out of the now empty Star Trek The Experience and given front row seats for the closing event.
The faithful crowded around the entrance to Star Trek The Experience when Captain (and STTE Operations Manager) Chad Boutte took to the podium and began the ceremony at 2200 hours (10:00 PM) with the introduction of the event’s MC (and Star Trek guest star) Suzie Plakson, who introduced the cast and crew of Star Trek: Experience one by one who walked out on a red carpet to take their long and overdue bows and receive the appreciation by the fans who gathered for this historic night.
The roll call of names and introductions ended with a special name. April Hebert, who was the first cast member to be assigned to Star Trek: Experience, came out, still in character as a Vulcan (Hebert has portrayed multiple roles at STTE, including Starfleet and an Andorian). As the longest active crewmember, Hebert was presented a very special gift, the official flag of the United Federation of Planets that has hung proudly in front on the main entrance from the first day of service. The moment resulted in a five minute standing ovation.
Captain Boutte returned to the podium one final time with his closing remarks, and as he held aloft a signed baseball that represented the cast and crew of Star Trek The Experience, he reminded us all of the optimism and hope that Star Trek represents by quoting Mr. Spock in Star Trek II, saying "there are always…possibilities."
And with his final words, "live long and prosper" (of course), the gold curtain finally came down and the 11-year mission of Star Trek The Experience was over.
Behind the famed gold curtain, the crew gathered for a private event to say their goodbyes to each other and share the emotions that were pouring out. As the faithful fans departed the officers and crew of Star Trek: Experience gathered for one last party above Quark’s Bar and Restaurant. In addition to the Plakson, some Trek celebrities showed up to say goodbye; on hand were Garrett Wang (VOY: Kim) Lawrence Montaigne (TOS: Stonn) and Chase Masterson (DS9: Leeta). During the party Boutte and others were presented with gifts from the staff and crew.
More images for STTE closure: Photography by Paula Angelos and Ryan Graham, more photos from Ryan at his photobucket page.
Goodbye and Thanks, from the USS Las Vegas
On a personal note, I want to express my thanks on behalf of the officers and crew of the USS Las Vegas for being invited to participate in the official decommissioning ceremonies. We were honored to have taken part in this very true historic night. This is one of those events that as a Star Trek fan you will be able to say…I remember where I was when the Star Trek: Experienced closed after almost 11 yrs of service to the Star Trek fans.