Krakkaboom Internet/Gaming Center, Westfield Shoppingtown Old Orchard, Skokie, IL
February 26, 2006
Story and Photos by Jason D. Meyers Ret. (Dead Hero)

Darth Spice and I headed way south of Heaven to north of the city of Chicago today to join up with members of the Midwest Garrison to invade Skokie Valley Mall and its Krakkaboom Gaming Center to promote the release of the newest Star Wars game from Lucasarts, Star Wars: Empire at War. With the small army of Stormtroopers, Biker Scouts, and even Anakin Skywalker marching through the suburban shopping complex, Star Wars fans and gaming fans alike flocked to Krakkaboom to take a look at the game.

Had you attended, you may have thought you were at The Mos Eisley Cantina, with a “no blasters” permitted ordinance in effect. The MG-34’s and Spice’s latest armament, the feared Concussion Grenade Canon, had to remain in the ordnance bay, but Westfield Shopping Center’s finest royal security forces escorted the Troops, in the event things had gotten ugly. Shoppers and assorted inhabitants of the mall took the opportunity to visit, and have their pictures taken with, the Star Wars characters that attracted so much attention at what would have normally been a nondescript weekend shopping jaunt. Smiles and raised eyebrows were seen at every stop the Empire’s minions made during the day, with even the Fossil vendor inviting a contingent of Troops to sweep the store and put the choke on potential jewelry smugglers.

Activities began at two o’clock, with the Midwest Garrison spearheading a mission to the foodcourt and back to spread word about the day’s activities at Krakkaboom, which included playing the Empire at War game on twenty-four game stations, and viewing a complimentary in-store screening of The Empire Strikes back once your eyes had gotten strained from all the game play. Allan Sargan and Gary Briones of Krakkaboom were excellent hosts, marching through the mall’s courtyards with the Troopers, totally enjoying the excitement surrounding this game release and the Star Wars brand itself offers, and anticipating the salvo of Lucasarts game releases coming in the months ahead. A gaming party was had by all, with the troopers and this photographer enjoying treats provided by Allan and Gary: pizzas and a drink with what may margin on an illegal amount of caffeine per serving, “Bawls” energy drink. I’d recommend sucking a few of these down, should you find yourself staying up all night playing Empire at War.

Despite having been on “retired” status for some time now, it’s been a reawakening for me to attend two Dewback Patrol outings this month, not mentioning that the Dewback Patrol segment of Sandtroopers itself has become the greatest living Star Wars experience on the world wide web today, with Troopers being deployed at any and every event that centers around Star Wars. The youth that catch sight of the classic characters may run up to battle the troops, or, even run away screaming, but they will not forget these encounters!

To see the photo gallery containing 71 photos click here.