Great Moments Behind the Scenes at Celebration, Part II



“C-3PO is on the run without security.”

“Mary, your boyfriend is in the next aisle.”

“Hide him with a Stormtrooper helmet.”

As my blog of January 22 states, there are always moments at Celebrations that sound not of this universe, or else completely unlikely, as in “You are going to serve cake to 7,000 people.” (For more on the Great Celebration Cake Adventure see Celebration IV: The Entertainment Capital of the Star Wars World.)

“I am on the loading dock and security won’t let me in.”

One morning at Celebration IV my mobile rang. I picked it up to hear the voice of one of our very special guests. Seems he was out on the loading dock behind the main exhibit hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, and security would not let him back in. He did not have his badge with him, and while I thought he might be well known enough that security should recognize him and just let him in, I could understand they were doing their job. Or maybe that particular security guard did not recognize him. Fair enough.

I trotted out to the dock and spotted him, standing out and enjoying the California sunshine. I went out to greet him, and we turned to head into the building.

Security would not let me in, either.

I had a staff badge and an all-access badge and I had just walked out the bloody door right past the guard, and I’m the lead on the entire show for Sith’s sake.

No amount of insistence nor varying volume of voice would get him to change his mind, and I felt more and more conscious that our special guest was getting an impression of Celebration and of me that I did not want him to have. Finally, a series of phone calls resulted in the guard’s boss calling on the radio. He very reluctantly let us in.

“Mary, your boyfriend is in the next aisle.”

What? My boyfriend at the time of 2010’s Celebration V in Orlando had absolutely no interest whatsoever in coming to the show, claiming it was just not his thing. While that disappointed me, I was confident he would not make the trip from California to Florida just to surprise me.

When I turned the corner into the aisle where my boyfriend supposedly was, I was pleasantly surprised — not by my in-galaxy boyfriend but by my favorite character from the galaxy far, far away: Bossk.

How do so many fans know I have a secret crush on the Trandoshan bounty hunter?

“C-3PO is on the run without security.”

Another Celebration, another morning, and another phone call, this time from a worried helper who was supposed to be escorting Anthony Daniels to the autograph area. Apparently Anthony had struck out on his own, which he often does during Celebrations. Luckily for the fans, when he does this he is usually on his way to give them a surprise visit while they stand in line waiting for the show to open, or for some other big show event. Anthony’s surprise drop-ins are one of those special moments behind the scenes that fans won’t find anywhere else except at Celebrations.

See Anthony Daniels at Celebration Europe.

I know from my years of working with Anthony at Celebrations that he has uncanny skill at getting through crowds of people without getting slowed down. I didn’t have to take action on this phone call, but just smiled and thought of the fans who were about to have a good Celebration memory in the making.

“Hide him with a Stormtrooper helmet.”

Hayden Christensen, who would be making his Star Wars debut as Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming Attack of the Clones, attended Celebration II in 2002. His appearance caused a lot of excitement with the fans at the show — particularly, as I recall, with the young women.

Hayden and his brother Tove were both big Star Wars fans and wanted to walk around and see Celebration, but Hayden’s celebrity status guaranteed they would get mobbed and likely not be able to see much of anything. They were standing backstage discussing the problem with Lucasfilm staff when Debby Dragoo, one of the Elite Squad quietly said, “Stormtrooper helmet. Hide him with a Stormtrooper helmet.”

Thanks to a quick loan from 501st Garrison members, both Hayden and Tove were given helmets to wear, and they set out in high spirits to explore the festival. I’m told that, while there might have been suspicions about who was under the helmets, no one made a positive identification nor disturbed them.

“Mary, your boss is here.”

I was told this so many times at the Celebrations in Indianapolis that I lost count, and each time was introduced to this particular costumer as my boss, each day of the show. While the very convincing George Lucas costume was taken in great humor by most attendees, there were a few who were fooled and thought George was actually walking around on his own, on the floor at Celebration.

Each time we were introduced, I asked this “George” for a raise. It never happened, somehow!