So with the once every two-years interstellar party that is a Star Wars Celebration kicking off with fans coming from all over (the galaxy…) to Orlando, Florida, one group in particular plays a very prominent, recurring, all-volunteer role in helping to make Star Wars come to life. Among all the featured events, guests, panels, and fan-experiences, any major Star Wars fan knows they have to keep their eyes open for representatives from Lord Vader’s personal detachment of Imperial Troops: the 501st Legion.
Celebrating its 15th year of patrolling the world and making it safe for Star Wars fandom, fans of the 501st can be found wherever there is love for Star Wars, and at SWCVI we have found a welcome official 501st home away from their home at the Rosen Center Hotel. But before we suit up and hit the floor decked out in our finest Imperial threads (and armor), there’s work that needs to be done setting up displays, and getting ready to share the magic the Legion brings to share with Star Wars fans.
This year, Legion members have truly doubled-down on their efforts, bringing in many of the dioramas and re-created set pieces fans have loved to take pictures in front as in previous years, but also adding a few new surprises for Celebration attendees, including Roxy the Rancor, Shoot-A-Trooper to help benefit Make-A-Wish (fundraising and community support remain at the heart of the 501st, and its sister organization the Rebel Legion), and a new, improved, maxed-out-to-a-double-bladed-lightsaber-hilt official 501st room.
But, rest easy, 501st fan & future recruit, we do make sure that after a couple of solid days of hard work setting up Hutts, Death Star sections, various alien displays, armor samples and 1138 other items for fans to see and interact with, there’s still plenty of time for catching up with old friends. And with thousands of members across the world, there’s always another patch, t-shirt or challenge coin to share. A quick insider’s word to the inexperienced, here: be careful about actually using a challenge coin if you’re not prepared to pay up; almost every Legion member has at least 2 or 3 coins on them at any one time, waiting for an unprepared soul to throw down… and no one parties like members of Vader’s Fist are capable of doing. As someone once said: I thought we knew how to party; you all are professionals! (plus we bring our own special effects and have cool toys that actually work!)
Of course, no finer responsibility exists than ensuring (and enforcing!) fans showing their love of Star Wars. And so with the paint drying, carpet laid, Hutts stuffed, cars positioned, patrol droids charged, badges distributed, schedules assigned, nails pounded in, and coffee pounded down, it’s time for the Legion to gear up and bring some smiles to everyone hitting Celebration VI! (well, except maybe for any Ewoks; but that’s a whole other set of Troops and story…)
We may be the “bad guys”, but we hope you have as much fun seeing us on patrol as we have doing “what must be done” in our hearts.
Here’s to a great 4 days!
All right, then: Move along; move along…
…Yes, Lord Vader…The shield will be down in moments. You may start your landing…
Lawrence Green wanted to be a Stormtrooper or Luke Skywalker when he first saw Star Wars. Now, he’s both, as a member of the 501st and Rebel Legions. Designated by 501st founder Albin Johnson at the 2007 Rose Parade as “the 501st’s own Jedi-Luke”, Lawrence is the Executive Officer & Public/Media Relations Officer of the Southern California Garrison of the 501st Legion. You can follow his personal tweets at @Lawrence_Green and find the SoCal Garrison at www.southerncaliforniagarrison.com and @501SCG.