Star Wars fans from around the globe have their minds full of possibilities and excitement since the spectacular news broke that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm Ltd., and the eye-popping announcement that after many years of speculation and hope, additional episodes of the Star Wars saga will be released! While global fandom and movie news sites wait for the next bit of news on what the future has in store for Star Wars, fans in Southern California were able to enjoy a weekend of Star Wars glory and fun, turning out en mass for the 4th annual Long Beach Comic Con.
Officially named the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con with a nod to its usual timing close to Halloween, LBCC organizers have annually sought and highlighted a love of Star Wars, showcasing the 501st and Rebel Legions along with artists, special guests, and panels offered to convention attendees.
This year’s convention built on the growing number of attendees and organizers’ efforts from previous years, with a substantial deployment of Troops, Rebels, Mandalorian Mercs, and Jedi throughout the convention hall, and in a very special appearance, featured The Clone Wars actor Stephen Stanton and his close friends Rick Fitts of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager fame, and Michael Gregory from Robocop and Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. Convention attendees were also treated to seeing a full-size replica landspeeder from Episode IV: A New Hope, and were offered a chance to participate in the 501st Legion’s famous “Shoot-a-Trooper” field of play, all in support of fundraising efforts to provide toys for children this holiday season.
I reserve my trust for those who take action, General Skywalker.
Fans will not be surprised to know that Stephen, Rick, and Michael have been lending their time and effort at several conventions, offering to sign or take pictures with fans for a donation to help those in need. Continuing to surprise the fans as they did at Celebration VI, Stephen and Rick energized the Long Beach fans by appearing in character!
Attendees who arrived at the convention for the annual opening ceremonies were treated to Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader making an exciting, Stormtrooper-escorted entrance, leading up to a grand photograph of friends from throughout fandom on the convention center steps, before exploring the show.
Once on the show floor, attendees visiting the 501st booth at any point throughout Saturday would find Tarkin signing pictures, along with his good friends Rick (dressed as Dr. Martin from The Next Generation), and Michael.
I think we are going to have to accept Federation control for the time being.
Of course, the Star Wars universe is an ever-increasing, diverse assembly of worlds and fans, and if it just so happened that “Shoot-a-Trooper” at one point entered some kind of mirrored universe and briefly became “Shoot-a-Trekker”, no one complained. With everyone’s heart (and aim) in the right place, a total donation of $1,950 was raised over the weekend for the Mandalorian Mercs’ “Little Warrior” gift fund!
And, in recognition of the energy and warmth that Stephen, Rick, and Michael have shared with Star Wars fans, representatives of the 501st, Rebels, and Mandalorians bestowed honorary memberships upon their special guests, welcoming them further into the Star Wars family. In a whirlwind of surprises and insider-planning, the Rebel Legion welcomed Stephen as a member to match his 501st membership, the Mandalorian Mercs conferred honorary membership onto Michael, and in an especially moving day for him, Rick received triple honors with honorary membership presentations on behalf of both Legions and the Mandalorians. Although no one was quite able to pinpoint Rick’s uniform anywhere in the Star Wars holocron database, all were honored that he joined.
In turn, as the convention drew to its close on Sunday, representatives from Long Beach Comic Con surprised the 501st and Rebel Legions with presentation of “Best of Show” honors for the Legions’ efforts in helping to raise funds and entertain convention attendees. A great compliment to everyone’s work and dedication to making Star Wars come alive for fans and giving back to the local area!
With all eyes now on the upcoming season, members of the Legions and the larger Star Wars fan community will increasingly turn their full efforts to holiday fundraising, hoping to spread Star Wars cheer and excitement as far and wide as possible, bringing holiday joy and merriment throughout the galaxy!
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 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison. You can follow his personal tweets at@Lawrence_Green and find the SoCal Garrison atwww.southerncaliforniagarrison.com and @501SCG.