This year’s Dragon Con, held last week in Atlanta, Georgia, was chock-full of Star Wars excitement. Plenty of costumes roamed the multiple hotels of the convention, and Saturday morning’s parade was loaded with fans who set their alarm clocks early and made their way to the staging area when many of Dragon Con’s revelers were just falling into a deep sleep.
I staked out my spot bright and early this year so I wouldn’t miss a thing, and I am so glad I did, even if my eyes were so puffy from lack of sleep that people probably thought I was cosplaying as E.T. I got to be right up close to all the action and saw some truly awesome costumes on display, as well as a whole lot of Star Wars love.
Our favorite franchise always closes out the parade, so these fans hit the parade route just as the morning sun was really starting to blaze. It started with the tongue-in-cheek cardboard group. Cardboard Chewbacca, Vader, and even an AT-AT — it may be low-tech, but it’s high-fun.
Hot on their tails were the Jedi, looking elegant and cool, despite all their layers. And then there were Mandalorians, lots and lots of Mandalorians. One had even captured a poor Jedi and was forcing him along the route under duress.
Just as things were starting to feel ominous, a little levity arrived in the form of the Spaceballs group. On the off chance you’re not in the know, Spaceballs is a loving parody of Star Wars directed and produced by comedy legend Mel Brooks. So while it’s not technically Star Wars, it fit right in on the parade route.
Lord Vader managed to commandeer a trailer for a ride, and he deftly commanded the crowd from atop his rolling perch. (His poor royal guards had to travel on foot.) Shortly behind him were the Kilted Trooper Brigade, a 501st truck hauling a Wookiee, and an impressive battalion of rebel heroes. I even sighted Han and Chewie walking in dangerously close proximity to Boba Fett (I hope they made it safely to the end without any disintegrations.) Darth Maul tried to look inconspicuous by traveling in a group of Tuskens and Jawas, but there’s just no hiding a red and black horned Sith.
And then came the armor. Troops, troops, and more troops, as far as the eye could see. It always cracks me up to see how many kids want their photos with members of the evil empire. And I am always delighted to see troopers oblige their young fans.
What I was really left with as the parade wrapped up was a sense of excitement and anticipation. There was such a great turnout this year and so much fan devotion to this thing we all hold so dear. I can only imagine what the parade will be like in the coming years as we have more new Star Wars coming all the time. I expect lots of Rebels characters next year, lots of Episode VII the year after that, and an ongoing buildup as we go forward. I feel like the future of Star Wars fandom is so hopeful; I look forward to marking its growth each year at Dragon Con!
Holly Frey cohosts the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast at HowStuffWorks.com. She’s an avid costumer, and Star Wars has been an integral part of her life since opening day in 1977.