Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL
August 14, 2005
Story and Photos by Chris Spice (Darth Spice)


I’ve had an opportunity to obtain some photos of an event from Sunday August 14, 2005 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. We had the privilege of Troopin’ Kunzel's Star Wars at Ravinia. Erich Kunzel conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through Star Wars Music from Episodes I – VI. Daniel Logan was on hand to narrate as well. It was really exciting to take place in the opening ceremony and the packed pavilion crowd was entertained by the impressive amount of Midwest Garrison members that showed up for the mission. The mission you ask? We were assigned to provide ambiance, atmosphere, along with meet & greet photo ops and stage escort duty for Daniel Logan. The crowd was a bit unnerving for a new recruit like myself. After taking one for the team across my mid-section at Wizard World last weekend, the crowd of 4-7 year-olds most packing lightsabers was a bit troublesome! However we were in greater numbers and the children were very distracted by Lord Vader!

I really have to take my helmet off to Daniel Logan; he was absolutely great with the people. I understand it’s his job but you could really tell he actually cared. You can’t fake emotion like that, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the group picked up on that too. It is rough being new in the group. When a person who can’t walk approaches you and tells you how much Star Wars means to them, it’s very humbling. The things we take for granted like walking and talking. I was very grateful to be wearing a helmet, it’s not very tough-guy like to tear up in big crowds! I can honestly tell you I was moved. Bringing a smile to the faces of children I thought was one of the greatest things about being a member of the 501st, however reaching out to people who aren’t as fortunate is definitely up there on the top of the list. We were able to go out into the lawn seats and take pictures during the concert, but returned later to the pavilion for the end of the show, and the encore. We were asked to go out among the orchestra and “dance around” while the theme from the Creature Cantina was played. I was grateful not to do a header off the stage, and being perhaps one of the most Caucasian oriented dancers you’ve ever seen, once again, I was very grateful for my helmet!

I’d like to thank the members of the Midwest Garrison for allowing me to come in, last minute. I was very impressed by the group that came from as far away as Valparaiso, IN for this event! Star Wars fans selflessness never ceases to amaze me. I had a wonderful time and these people, whom some I’ve just met, feel so much like family I’ve known for decades. My new “dirty” armor held up very well and for my second time in uniform I thought I did fairly well. It’s very hot, you sweat like a whore in church and yes it can be uncomfortable from time to time. However, the thunderous applause after the show was deafening enough to sooth my weary body. Thanks again to the Staff at the Ravinia Festival and the Chicago Force member who was kind enough to snap the photos while I was on duty! United We Find Troopers!

To see the photo gallery containing 31 photos click here.