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Enjoying the fellowship of the 'Rings'

'Lord of the Rings' fans gather for day-long marathon

By Geneen Pipher

Josh Prismon as hobbit Samwise Gamgee and Tracy Wilson as elf queen Galadriel.

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- They came dressed in sweatpants, pajamas, hobbit cloaks and even chain mail, each proudly bearing a precious treasure a ticket to the all-day "Lord of the Rings" marathon, a back-to-back-to-back viewing of all three films, including the third and final installment, "The Return of the King."

Middle-earth had come home.

Upon entering the hot, crowded corridor at Atlanta's Regal Hollywood 24 Cinema, I stepped into this fantasy world, a make-believe world of hobbits, elves and wizards.

I was not dressed in a beaded elven gown or furry hobbit feet, but that did not matter. A passion for Tolkien and the films was all that was required to be a part of the fellowship.

As I made my way to the back of the line, behind about 150 other "Rings" fans, I observed a spirit and camaraderie rarely seen among strangers.

Cheerful movie goers lined the hallways, sitting on the floor passing the time playing games, sharing refreshments, and talking about the books, the movies, the actors anything "Lord of the Rings."

"Who do you think would win in a battle between Aragorn and Legolas?" I was asked.

"Aragorn, of course," I replied knowing that I was now a part of the experience and an official "Rings" geek.

In fact, the theater was full of self-professed geeks people who proudly admitted to being "Rings" nerds.

"In terms of geekdom, this is pretty high up there," said Matthias Shapiro, 22, who camped overnight at the theater to be first in line for seats.

Joshua Prismon, a 26-year-old systems and network engineer, said he was looking forward to sharing a unique experience with fellow fans.

"It's a fun thing to celebrate," said Prismon who came to the theater dressed as hobbit Samwise Gamgee. "It's fun to come and experience this once-in-a-lifetime event and hang out with other geeks like me."

After about two hours of waiting, my fellow geeks and I cheered as we filed into the theater and took our seats like children gathering for story time.

Hannah Putney, left, and her sister Rachel came to the marathon dressed as elf princess Arwen.

We cheered again as the lights went down and story time officially got underway with "The Fellowship of the Ring."

Throughout the movies, fans noisily applauded their favorite parts and laughed heartily at every joke.

"I enjoyed laughing and clapping at the movies the same way I did when I was a young child," said Chuck Kazukauskas. "I felt the same camaraderie and closeness with the entire audience of 400 people as I did with my own family when I was a child. That's special."

It was special and for the next 12 hours I indulged my inner geek and allowed myself to be swept into a magical world where good and evil are clearly defined and there is a hero around every corner.

When it was all over, the audience roared its approval for the last time. Then, weary but thrilled, I walked to the parking lot and bid farewell to Middle-earth and to my fellow geeks.

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