Saturday, January 9th, was the annual Star Wars Night at the Omaha Children's Museum with Vader's Fist, the 501st Legion patrolling the facility. Okay, those Rebel Scum; Han Solo and Chewbacca along with an X-Wing pilot also showed up, but we stuck them off in a corner pocket of the room we were occupying. The evening began at 1800 hours with the Legion marching Lord Vader into the newly remodeled Meet and Greet area the museum had this year. This new area allowed for a much improved traffic flow for the huge crowd of families in attendance. Being the only Sand Trooper present I was stationed in the middle of the exterior wall guarding our two pilots on my left with a pair of Mandalorian Mercs on my right.
During the first parade that evening, my training from having done the Walt Disney World Star Wars Weekends parade kicked in. As the bad boys of the universe and a member of a military unit you did not interact with the surrounding crowds. No waving, no hand slapping, just straight forward marching. Besides as Luke Skywalker said in A NEW HOPE; "I can't see a thing in this helmet." And he was right. Straight ahead and slightly up is okay but from your nose down forget it. It's not so bad in a parade, you simply have to look straight ahead, just watch the guy in front of you and don't run into him. But once we got to the meet and greet area, the kids I was meeting and greeting were below my ability to see them. I had to really guess where the kids posing for pictures were standing. Mostly I was trying to take my queue from their photographer and where the camera/phone was pointed. I really hope all those shots came out okay for them.
At about a quarter to the next hour the doors to the room were closed and the line of families was cutoff. Once those last people had had their time with our characters, we returned to the original staging area. There we hydrated, changed batteries (the battery for the fans in my helmet died during the first session) and generally prepared for the second march of the evening.
At 1900 hours we again stepped off our staging area, braved the throngs of cheering fans. This time I managed to override my Disney training and high fived the children lining the parade route, like everyone else had been doing. Fortunately most of them were raised high enough for me to see their hands or with mine outstretched, they could find it for me. The crowd was thinner in the Meet and Greet area this the last hour before the museum closed. It allowed us to wander around the room more to interact with those who were willing to brave the late hour. During this session R2-D2 put in an appearance and pulled a lot of guests away from Lord Vader with his antics.
All in all, a good time was had by everyone that evening.
(Photos courtesy of Jeff Schipman)
And BeyondAfter that event we had another appearance of note later that week. Alvin Garcia Flores, a student at Gateway Elementary School here in Omaha received a storm-trooper themed, 3-D printed bionic arm that to the University of Central Florida based Limbitless-solutions. Darth Vader and his Imperial colleagues presented it to him at a student assembly on Thursday (Jan 14th) afternoon. After giving him some practice with it, we helped him show it to the rest of the student body as we helped him parade passed all his classmates of the learning institute.