In previous columns we’ve talked about history with the 501st Legion, and joining the Legion. After you’ve gone through all the hard work to build your costume you want to wear it. This time around it’s the fun part: trooping at events.
To maintain active standing in the 501st you need to do at least one event a year. These events can be almost anything from a convention, a charity event, a Lucasfilm event, or a parade. There are many different types of events that we attend. Here in Garrison Tyranus covering the state of Virginia, we prefer to do events that help promote Star Wars, have a charitable aspect or benefit children. Personally I’ve trooped a wide variety of events from conventions, to Lucasfilm events such as movie premieres and the release of the latest Star Wars products, to charity events and hospital visits.
I can’t say I have a preference on the type of event, each one is rewarding in it’s own way. Conventions are a lot of fun due to the looser environment and give us a chance to interact with a wide variety of people. Charitable troops and hospital visits give a great feeling of giving back to your community and helping to make things brighter for others.
First, there is the problem of changing into our costumes. Unfortunately I can’t yet drive while wearing armor so we need a changing area. These can range from a bathroom or unused room at the event to a parking lot. While most of the changing stays PG rated, the first few events can always be a bit awkward as spandex undersuits don’t leave much to the imagination. You get over your modesty pretty quickly. At one of my first events I had to change in the parking lot of a Chuck E. Cheese pizza. It was a pretty surreal experience.
When we first enter into an event there is always a reaction. No matter how much an event is planned, someone always seems to be caught off guard. I love to watch the adults turn into children. Immediately the pictures begin. It’s funny that a lot of people just want a “Stormtrooper selfie” now. We troopers love to pose for pictures and we will happily take photos as much as we can. Just remember we can’t see or hear very well, so you may have to try and get our attention.
No matter how excited the adults get, it’s the kids who provide some of our favorite moments of any event. Most kids are excited to see us but then there are those that get excited to see us from a distance, but change once we get closer. They can’t decide how to react, they are excited to see us but also realize that we are the “bad guys.” In some cases there will be a trooper who takes his helmet off to help assure the kids that we are not really bad guys. It’s times like these that it helps to have a “good guy” costumer with us or someone who isn’t under a helmet.
I’m excited for this year’s Star Wars Celebration. Trooping at the conventions is always fun, especially when the con organizers work to make us part of the event. It’s one thing when we have a table to ourselves, it’s another when we get to be a part of the convention. Frequently larger conventions will use Stormtroopers as convention “security.”
Trooping is hard. It’s physically exhausting. The costumes are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. We don’t get paid and frequently have to pay out of pocket for expenses. All that goes away when you see the people’s faces and reactions, knowing that you helped bring some happiness into everyone’s life.Powered by Sidelines