River View Elementary School, Joliet, IL
May 20, 2006
Story and Photos by Chris Rhoads (dustrho)

 

THE EMPIRE AND ONE JEDI INVADE THE SCHOOL
For the first time in more than a week, it was going to be an absolutely gorgeous day outside. The weather was calling for almost clear skies, temps in the low 70, and for once no rain was in the forecast. It couldn't have been any better for us, as members of the Midwest Garrison (including myself) were going to be participating in the first Walk-a-Thon hosted at the River View Elementary School in Joliet, IL.

We were asked to arrive at the school around 8:00am, and I was there minutes before we needed to be there. I was the second one to show up, as there was only one lone vehicle in the parking lot. In that particular vehicle were those who would eventually become the ROTJ Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett and none other than our fearless leader, Darth Vader. I've trooped with Rich (Darth Vader) a few times, and I have to say that he has a very impressive Vader costume. It always seems as if he's always trying to improve it by doing slight modifications, but the outfit looks really good to me. The man dressing up as Boba Fett (LionsPride in the MWG forums) had one of the most stunning Boba Fett costumes I've seen in person, and it was the first time I would have the pleasure and honor of trooping with him.

After waiting around for a short while, the man of the hour drove on into the parking lot, and that person just so happened to be the one they call... Jango Fett! If you've never seen him in costume before, you don't know what your missing! Arturo Delgado (Jango Fett) not only has the best Jango Fett costume ever made (of course next to the original one made for Attack of the Clones), but he looks very much like the actor who portrayed Jango Fett in that film (Temuera Morrison). Arturo was the one who was organizing this event for the MWG, and his fiancée (Michelle) is a first grade teacher at the school. There were a couple of additional sandtroopers, a stormtrooper, a TIE fighter pilot and one lone female Jedi present for this event, so we pretty much had all bases covered. I think it was the first outing I've participated in that didn't have a Scout Trooper present.

After the school was opened up, we were asked to head on inside to get ourselves suited up. Thirty minutes later we were all ready to rock and roll, and we marched through the school hallways to go out to the back of the school. Outside were lots of children who were obviously waiting for the "Star Wars" people to make an appearance. Instead of walking up to them, we headed out into the large grassy field, to a place at the far side where we would hang out for the morning. Of course the kids didn't like the fact that we were walking away from them, but they would have their chance at meeting up with us soon enough.

The walk officially started shortly thereafter, but before that happened we all gathered up to have a few group photos taken of us. It's not that easy to get everyone together to have a group shot done, as most of these group shots always seem to happen at the end of the event. And because of that, most people usually take off so you really can't get a good group shot of everyone that participated in it. So, whoever decided to do a group shot at the beginning... kudos to you! After the pictures were taken we could see that the walk had started, and at the beginning of that line were kids running at a hard sprint so that they could finally meet us face-to-face. Right then and there I knew it was going to be a fun day.

The purpose of this event was to raise money so that the school could replace their old sound system in their gymnasium, and we wanted to do whatever we could do to help them reach that goal. The children, some with their parents, would walk around this very large field about ten times, and each time they passed us they would ask to have their photos taken with us and some just wanted to have our autographs. Some of the guys from the Garrison had some good talent, as Jango Fett would draw a Mandalorian helmet and one of the sandtroopers drew a good stormtrooper helmet. Most of the autographs were done on the children's t-shirts that had "River View Elementary Walk-a-Thon" printed on the front, so it was an honor for me to be able to autographs all of these kids' shirts.

Before you knew it the Walk-a-Thon was pretty much over, so we headed back toward the school. A raffle contest was taking place, and I heard that a couple of the prizes were Apple iPod Nano MP3 players. How cool would that have been to be a young kid winning one of those? I'm not sure what the other prizes consisted of, but whatever the school was giving away was simply a nice gesture.

One thing I have quickly learned about trooping with the MWG, is that I have almost more fun trooping at the smaller events then I have at the larger ones. Granted I haven't really trooped at a "large event" yet, but trooping at the smaller ones is so much more rewarding to me. To be able to actually talk with the children and their parents about Star Wars and our costumes is so cool. I had a lot of fun today and I would be thrilled to do something like that again for that school or any other school. Helping out the kids means a lot to me, and I'm glad that I was able to participate in this event today. So thanks Michelle and Arturo for putting together this event. It was a blast!

PHOTO GALLERY
To see the photo gallery containing 23 photos click here.