Back in the spring of 2006, George Lucas decided he would love to bring Star Wars fans from all over the world to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day 2007.
As I recall, our head of marketing at the time assumed that we would bring costumed characters only from the areas closest to Pasadena, California, where the parade is held. George, however, wanted to bring them from all over to say “thank you” for their support of Star Wars over the years, and to recognize the dedication of groups like the 501st and Rebel Legions for their community and charity service.
We ended up with literally blocks of marching Stormtroopers, Rebels, Imperials, Ewoks, droids, princesses, Darth Vader, and a spare Vader tracking the parade route on a side street in a van. The path of the troops to the Rose Parade was documented in Star Warriors, which is scheduled to be shown at Star Wars Celebration Europe on Pablo Hidalgo’s Behind-The-Scenes Stage in Halle 5.
With special guest Steve Sansweet, an integral part of the Rose Parade Star Wars production, this Celebration screening of Star Warriors will include a few special scenes that did not make the final cut of the documentary, many of them featuring the European participants.
Este Meza (my colleague on our Lucasfilm events team) and I were recently going through these deleted scenes to pick some out for Celebration, and I could not resist asking for these screenshots from footage of 501st Legion European groups. They were thanking George Lucas for the experience in their various languages. Some of the takes, retakes, and retakes again, are worth the price of admission by themselves.
Don’t miss the Star Warriors screening at Celebration Europe! And…you Legion members I’m pointing out with the pictures below, please know I’m teasing in good fun. Be sure to come to the screening and see for yourself how beautifully you really did.
Take a wild guess how many takes it took the French Garrison to say what they wanted to say in the same French language? Your guess is as good as mine, because I lost count! Clearly they think it’s funny, too.
Me, obsessing over proper timekeeping and cadence during our daily, all-day rehearsals at the Maranatha High School field in Pasadena, in the week leading up to the parade. Yes, I used to be a drum major (fuzzy hat, saber, boots, “This one time, at band camp,” etc.). No, you will not see me in the deleted scenes, because I am a true behind-the-scenes kind of person. However, you will see footage of the serious rehearsals, and of our outstanding drill leaders from the 501st Legion who got the hundreds of marchers parade ready. It was incredible how much everyone learned to march together in that one week of rehearsals.
For an additional, wonderful tribute to the Rose Parade effort, be sure to go by the pavilion of the German 501st Legion in Halle 5, and see the full diorama of the entire Star Wars parade entry, built of LEGOs and sent especially for Celebration Europe by Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st Legion. It’s spectacular! Be sure to look for the Gollum inside the tree on one of the Endor floats, too. That represents my Lucasfilm colleague Matt Martin, who was part of the Elite Squad at that time, and responsible for making sure the Ewoks did not overheat. He rode the entire parade inside that tree, and did his job very well. All Ewoks were safe and hydrated at the end!