MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- May the Fourth – or Force – be with you.
Installation residents did not have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to enjoy lightsabers, stormtroopers, marauding mercenaries, Sith Lords and Jedi. More than 130 "Star Wars" fans, adults and children alike, gathered at the Harriotte B. Smith Library in celebration of "Star Wars" Day aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune May 4.
The previous "Star Wars" Day seemed like a long time ago to the librarian hosts, with two years passing since the last gathering of fans.
“We don’t like to do the same events each year,” said Fran Bing, library youth services technician. “This way they stay fresh and don’t get stagnant.”
The "Star Wars" Day began when the boys who visited the library kept asking why there were princess-themed parties but nothing they could join.
“The first ('Star Wars' Day) party became such a family affair we knew it was something everyone could enjoy,” said Bing. “This was the best one yet.”
As the parents and children arrived at the library and headed to the outside pavilion, they met a friendly stormtrooper and a Marine Corps-influenced Boba Fett, who both posed for photos and talked about their adventures in space.
The Force was strong with the younglings who dressed as their favorite characters.
Little Luke Skywalkers, villainous Darth Vaders and waddling Yodas comprised a fraction of the child costume contest.
Dougie Ebenal, who dressed as Jedi Master Yoda, triumphed with his custom-made Yoda costume, complete with green, pointy ears, walking stick and lightsaber. Evan Wetherald received second place with his Return of the Jedi version of Luke Skywalker costume, and Olivia Shuler won third place with her Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano costume from the animated
"Stars Wars: The Clone Wars" television show.
The winners received "Star Wars" books and other paraphernalia from the library staff.
After the costume contest, the small Sith Lords and Jedi played a "Star Wars" theme music version of musical chairs and a Kessel Run frisbee challenge complete with a Millennium Falcon picture on the frisbee.
To everyone’s surprise, a base resident dressed as Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi showed up out of nowhere.
“I saw the sign as I was driving down Holcomb Boulevard and decided to come out,” he said. “The kids are having a blast, and it’s great to see the love for 'Star Wars' transcends everything else for people to get together and have a great time.”
After an hour of lightsaber battles, musical chairs and jumps into hyperspace via frisbee, Bing gathered everyone inside the library to color "Star Wars" drawings as well as an arts and crafts event straight out of the Jedi Temple of Coruscant. The children built their own lightsabers out of paper, glue and tape.
“If it weren’t for our volunteers, this could have been a real mess with the amount of people who showed up,” said Sean Pittman, library technician.
“We had a volunteer who works at the research library dressed as the Storm Trooper, but the three girls who helped with the events and keeping the kids out of trouble really were the unsung heroes of the day.”
As freshly made lightsabers swung through the air, the families started to file out and the day came to a close.