For fans around the world, Star Wars Celebration Anaheim was a full four days of fun, excitement, wonder, and surprises, whether experienced in person or via the live streams coming from the Anaheim Convention Center.
For those in attendance, their experience undoubtedly included seeing and interacting with members of the 501st and Rebel Legion, and their friends in the Madalorian Mercs and other Star Wars costume clubs.
Costumed members are always a feature at pop culture conventions and the Star Wars costuming community in particular is always a major presence, but at official Star Wars Celebrations, members of the Legions take on special roles as Star Wars ambassadors, helpers, entertainers, and community representatives, whether they live in the area or have flown in from across the globe.
For Celebration Anaheim, well over a thousand members from among the various costuming groups were in attendance, helping to make Star Wars come to life for the convention attendees and pitching in wherever needed.
From organization booths, photo ops, floor-sketches, and special fundraising activities, members were a constant presence during Celebration, exciting visitors and surprising more than a few smiling passersby and hotel staff.
Celebration also meant reunions and reconnecting with friends from garrisons in other countries, showing off new outfits and armor, and discussing hopes and thoughts for what lies ahead in the Star Wars universe, with all eyes set on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and new Star Wars Rebels adventures!
Celebration also provided a great opportunity for the Legions and the Mandalorian Mercs to raise awareness of the community and perform charity work that form the heart of their membership, and they once again brought their very best efforts amidst all the ongoing Celebration activities. Over $4,000 was raised alone at the 501st Legion’s booth from generous attendees seeking photo opportunities. Members from both the Legions and the Mandalorians also came together for a special ceremony to make sure one young fan struggling through some personal hurdles had an especially memorable Celebration.
No Celebration would be complete without group photos, whether focusing on Legion-wide members, new characters and troopers, pilots, droids, heroes, Mandalorians, or any of the many units that make up the greater Star Wars fan universe. Of course, a few familiar, special faces could be seen among all the smiles, making Celebration that much more memorable for everyone!
In addition to the public revelation of new characters, Celebration Anaheim also featured a dedicated “Ladies of the Legion” group photo to celebrate women who are members of the Legions and other costuming organizations, as well as the first-ever “all-costumers” photo open to all fans.
Celebration veterans know that daytime is only part of the Star Wars fan experience, with movie screenings and late-night hangouts all part of the full Celebration experience. Celebration also means the usual mix of Legion parties, dinners and dancing, and making the experience a weekend full of non-stop fun and laughter while sharing in the common bond of Star Wars magic.
Despite four days packed with exciting panels, revelations for the future of Star Wars, visits by actors and creative artists, and spending as much time together as possible — either “trooping” or just enjoying everything Celebration offered — members knew there were only so many hours in which to do everything before it was time to start packing and readying to return to home bases near and far.
Amidst more than a few tears, fond farewells, and pledges to meet again at future events, members looked forward to returning to their communities and continuing the dedicated efforts they provide to benefit their neighborhoods while earnestly waiting for what’s next in the Star Wars galaxy.
With the excitement building for the premiere of new Star Wars films and an ever-growing fandom, plans are already underway for members to reconvene next July in London, England, and celebrate the new worlds and journeys ahead for Star Wars fans across the world!
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 at www.southerncaliforniagarrison.com and @501SCG.