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Need Fundraising? Who You Gonna Call?

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Local Ghostbusters superfans go all out for the love of the films…and for local charities

Little did Chris and Karen Sarna of Winter Springs know their love for the 1984 movie Ghostbusters would land them on the red carpet in Hollywood for the premiere of the 2016 remake. Dressed in authentic garb, Chris, Karen, and other members of the Orlando Ghostbusters fan club, along with hundreds of other fan club members from around the country, cheered and reveled at Tinseltown’s famous Chinese Theatre as the stars of the newest film made their way into the premiere.

“Talk about a nice surprise,” says Karen, who received a phone call from Sony Pictures two weeks earlier, inviting them to the big event. “It was a mad scramble for all of us to get out there on such short notice, but we made it happen.”

After a complimentary dinner at Madame Tussauds Hollywood Wax Museum, the group enjoyed the red-carpet experience and a free screening of the movie immediately after the actors and press watched the premiere. Director Paul Feig even gave them an inspiring speech before the screening and thanked them for their loyalty and passion.

“Nothing can compare to the original, which is a classic, but the reboot was actually a pretty good movie,” says Chris. “When we first got into this, we never imagined we would end up at the premiere of the remake.”

Chris and Karen met in 1992 in Daytona Beach. Chris was a flight instructor, and Karen was a mechanic at a flight school. The pair immediately hit it off, soon realizing they shared a love for science fiction. Over time, they started dabbling in costuming, especially Karen, who seemed to have a knack for it.

“Karen was a natural at making costumes, but even more so for creating the props and accessories associated with them,” says Chris, who is now a pilot. “Being a mechanic, she was able to replicate the proton packs, ghost traps, and P.K.E. meters they used in Ghostbusters.”

After joining the Orlando Ghostbusters fan club in 2008, they became more active in the convention and promotional event scenes, always showing up in full garb and helping raise money for charitable causes. Among the many charities they’ve helped are Autism Speaks, Give Kids the World, the American Cancer Society, and, most recently, the OneOrlando Fund.

“Charitable organizations often enlist our help because having us there draws more people to these events,” says Karen, who now works for an airline. “It’s gratifying helping raise money for these incredible causes just by dressing up in the costumes we love.”

Orlando Ghostbusters does not charge a fee for their appearances, which take them to malls, movie theaters, conventions, comic book stores, and just about anywhere they can help either charitable organizations or local businesses. When Karen and Chris returned from the premiere in Los Angeles, the Orlando premiere of Ghostbusters kept them quite busy in Central Florida, as the group made several appearances at theaters and comic book shops.

“Sometimes people don’t realize we have real jobs and busy lives, but our love for movies like Ghostbusters makes it easy for us to commit to these events because it’s our passion and it’s fun,” says Chris. “When people call about our making an appearance at an event, they will ask what we need in return. I tell them to give us some water and a snack, and we’re there.”

For Karen and Chris, their love of science fiction, fantasy, getting dressed in character, and each other has grown stronger over the years, and they’ve put it all to good use in the community.

“When people see us dressed up in our Ghostbusters outfits, they can’t believe how authentic we look,” says Karen, “and it always brings smiles to their faces. The film brings back fun memories for people, and it makes us feel good knowing we can make people happy while helping the community as a whole.”

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