We are just one month away from the biggest Star Wars party of the year, Star Wars Celebration. The biannual convention entirely devoted to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Of course most of the people reading this already know this. Why bother writing about it here? In my columns here I’ve tried to focus on my personal experiences within the Star Wars fandom, and it wasn’t until I went to my first Celebration that I really understood what it was all about.
My first Celebration was Celebration IV in Los Angeles in 2007. I had been aware of the previous Celebrations, but for some reason I did not try to attend them. 2007 was the 30th anniversary of the release of A New Hope and I was just starting to join the larger Star Wars community.
I’ve been a fan since I was a child and grew up watching the movies religiously on VHS. But, I never felt like I was part of a larger community or fandom. It was something that I liked and I shared it with my family and friends but it never went beyond that. What started to bring me into the larger community was the ForceCast podcast. I started checking out podcasts right before Jason and then co-host Pete launched the show. They talked a lot about Celebration leading up to it, and it seemed like the right time to check it out. Didn’t hurt that I grew up in Southern California and it was a chance to go home and visit my family at the same time.
I never really attended conventions before this time. I almost made it to San Diego Comic-Con the year before but Darth Real Life threw a spanner into those plans and we had to cancel. Needless to say, arriving at Celebration in 2007 I was a bit overwhelmed. I’m not sure I knew what to expect but it defied my expectations. What shocked me the most at Celebration is not what I saw but rather what I didn’t see. I’ve been to plenty of concerts and large sporting events so I’m no stranger to crowds or major functions like this. Inevitably there are people who get drunk or loud or just cause trouble. I never saw anything like that here, everyone was friendly and nice. We all were there for the same purpose.
Celebration also marked the first time I saw large numbers of costumers. I had seen 501st members at a local convention a few months before, but there is a difference between 3 Stormtroopers and 300. My wife and I had made some simple costumes to wear. I wore Jedi robes and she wore one of Padme’s dresses. She was approached by someone else who had made the same dress. They talked about making the dress without any sign of jealousy or anger that they were both wearing the same gown.
Fast forward to 2010 and Celebration V in Orlando, Florida. Celebrations have become a can’t miss event for us. This time I was able to attend not only as a 501st member but a part of the larger fandom community. Celebration is now a chance to meet up with friends as well as see what goodies Lucasfilm has in store for us. I spend much of my time at the conventions walking around the show floor, soaking up the Star Wars sights and sounds.
Sadly, Darth Real Life struck again and I had to pass on attending Celebration VI in 2012. But that will not be happening this time around. I can’t wait to see all my Star Wars friends again and meet new ones.
Star Wars Celebration is just what the name suggests, it’s a celebration of all things Star Wars, the movies, books and more. Most importantly it’s a celebration for us the fans.