The AT-ST model advancing on the pavilion through the trees looks pretty convincing, but a closer look at the photo reveals quite a few lightsabers being waved around, not to mention the presence of Stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters. This was obviously not your typical Saturday picnic; it was, in fact, the third annual Star Wars celebration in London, Ontario’s Springbank Park.
I started hearing rumors about this event a few months ago that came to a head when my one of my wife’s co-workers at the University of Western Ontario spotted a guy dressed in full Stormtrooper gear walking to his car. A sighting of this nature was unusual enough to warrant some poking around and that, in turn, led to the London Rogues (the local Star Wars fan club that was organizing the event), and a subsequent flag on my calendar.
Despite threatening weather, and promises of severe thunderstorms, the boys and I hopped into the truck and went for a Saturday morning drive. The first thing we saw after parking and beginning the trek toward the main picnic pavilion was the AT-ST standing in the shadow of the trees. This is a pretty impressive replica- it stands 13 feet tall and there’s obviously been a lot of work put into it. The next impression was one of barely controlled chaos. Herds of kids running, pointing, gawking and a mass of twenty or thirty yelling boys in a pack, all armed with versions of light sabers and beating the hell out of each other with them. In other words, kids having a lot of fun. The strangest thing? Usually the park is over-run with Canada Geese, but I didn’t see a single one. Maybe the city should consider hiring the Rogues to wander around on a full-time basis as they are apparently a very effective, non-lethal goose deterrent.
Events planned for the day included classics such as:
- Wookie Sniper Shoot
- Thermal Detonator Toss
- Jedi/Padawn Race
- Lightsaber Tournament
- Stormtrooper March
The boys and I made the rounds, admired the AT-ST and the costumes and watched the Wookie Sniper shoot. I snapped some photos under the watchful eye of Greedo, who seemed to have suspicions about my intentions (perhaps figuring I was an opening weekend Trekkie out to sabotage things); I ended up with four or five shots of Greedo taking aim at me. Hard to tell which one of us shot first… The boys were a little intimidated by all the armor, but Aidan eventually broke down and had his picture taken with Darth Vader, then a Stormtrooper. He’s taking printed copies of the photos to school today as proof of his adventure.
The festivities were scheduled to last all day, but after an hour or so, the threat of being drenched combined with a healthy respect for both lightning and stray blaster fire sent us on our way. But you can bet we’ll be back next year.