NO ONE COULD STOP
I was informed by none other than Lord Vader himself (Ted O'Sullivan), that we should rendezvous at 10:00am at the Centennial Beach parking lot, which was just blocks away from the heart of downtown Naperville. My dewback pulled into the parking lot at exactly 10:00am, and I was the first one there for our Star Wars portion of the parade. By getting there early I knew I would have plenty of time to put my armor on (which had to be done out of my car), and because I had a recent mission at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this past Friday evening I had some minor repairs to make to my armor. So, it worked out well for me.
About fifteen minutes passed when I saw another fellow 501st member show up, so I knew then and there that I wasn’t going to be the only one there (not that I thought I’d be the only one there). Soon after, the area in which we made our temporary headquarters started filling up with other troopers. In the end there were about six or seven TIE fighter pilots, three sandtroopers, one clean stormtrooper, a Jedi, Anakin Skywalker (from ROTS), Boba Fett, and last but not least Darth Vader. We even had R2-D2 in our lineup, but due to a bad motivator he was unable to make it through the entire parade. But, he was well enough to take several photos with several children who are big fans of the silver and blue celebrity.
Our number was called, and it was time to put the buckets on, load up our weapons, and prepare for deployment. We moved toward our holding area, waiting for the final call to start our march, and were stopped by several women in black holiday outfits. They, of course, wanted to have their pictures taken with us. There must have been at least seven people taking pictures of all these women with their Star Wars fans, and Lord Vader was (yet again) the main star of the attraction. Once the women cooled down their motivators, it was time for us to get into character. The sandtroopers looked pure evil with all the dirt that covered our bodies, Anakin looked possessed with his yellow and red eyes, and after Darth Vader stopped doing his photo-shoot with those ladies he was ready for prime-time. Our moment had come.
Ten minutes later we were marching through the streets, on a mission to entertain the children and grown-ups who came out to get into the holiday spirit. There weren’t as many people watching the parade as there were at the Racine holiday parade in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, but there was still a fairly decent turnout. I wasn’t expecting to see that many people with the way the weather was, but for the time of year it was pretty good weather in my opinion. I suppose civilians of Earth can’t handle a little bit of cold and wet weather, but those who could were determined to enjoy a great parade through the streets of downtown Naperville.
There were many children who were totally in awe when the saw us coming down the street. We were informed after the parade that the crowd became alive when they saw us turn the corner, and by bringing such excitement to these onlookers it put the same amount of excitement in me. However, some children were scared to the point where you saw tears forming under their eyes and some were screaming for their parents, but for the most part the majority of the children were quite excited to see their favorite Star Wars characters. Darth Vader’s popularity was running strong throughout the parade as I heard on several occasions, “Look! It’s Darth Vader! Let’s get a picture of him!”
Unfortunately the parade was over in about thirty minutes, but it was a most enjoyable thirty minutes because putting on my sandtrooper armor brings me as close as humanly possible to the Star Wars universe. If someone asked me to put it on, just so they could see what it looks likes up close and in person, I’d be more than happy to do that. I might have had chills today because of the cold, but I also had chills because of the high excitement levels of being in my armor and hanging out with great people who love Star Wars just as much as I do. I cannot wait for my next assignment that is given to me. Until then… may the Force be with you!