Plans aligning for Star Wars Day at Joliet library
BY BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org April 25, 2013 7:00PM
Star Wars Day is June 1 in Joliet, and library officials are headed to Chicago this weekend to boost interest in the event. Pictured here are members of the 501st Legion of the Midwest Garrison. | Supplied Photo
Updated: May 29, 2013 7:16AM
Visit the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo this weekend and you’ll find Roger Burns and others promoting the upcoming Star Wars Day in Joliet.
The contingent is promoting other local attractions, too, said Burns, youth services librarian at the Joliet Public Library. But the expo is a great place to spread the word about the ever-growing Joliet festival for “Star Wars” enthusiasts.
More than 3,000 came in 2012, only the third year for the event started by the Joliet library.
“We are expecting more,” Burns said Thursday. “It’s doubled every year.”
Burns does not know how long this doubling in attendance can continue. But he does know there is a lot of enthusiasm for “Star Wars.”
“ ‘Star Wars’ is like The Beatles,” he said. “It’s for everybody. It’s forever.”
Burns will be in a good place this weekend to meet like-minded people. He already was at the McCormick Place Convention Center on Thursday helping set up the Joliet booth for the expo.
The Comic and Entertainment Expo, which runs Friday through Sunday, is a good place to find people who have an inclination to visit events like Star Wars Days. But there are other benefits to attending the convention, said Burns, who went last year, too.
“To me, it makes a noticeable difference,” he said. “I’m able to reach out to potential participants — vendors, costume characters and musicians.”
Who knows what they’ll line up at the convention this weekend?
But the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion already are coming to Joliet on June 1. They will deliver more than 40 characters in what Burns said are “movie accurate” and “incredible looking” costumes.
Musicians include the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project, which adds an element of “Star Trek” to the event.
“We’re kind of cross-breeding genres,” Burns said.
Illustrators, too, will be in Joliet, including noted “Star Wars” artists Dave Dorman and Michael Babinski. A rising local talent, Steve Palenita, also will be at Star Wars Day.
As Star Wars Day attendance has grown, so has the local network that stages the event.
The city of Joliet, the Joliet Area Historical Museum, and the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau all will play a part in Star Wars Day 2013. They also will be promoting Joliet and the Illinois & Michigan Canal Heritage Corridor at this weekend’s expo.
“We’re growing every year and trying to stretch out,” said Linda Callaghan, manager of youth services at the Joliet Public Library. More of downtown, including the museum, will be used for Star Wars Day this year, she said.
Callaghan noted that the Route 66 Restaurant, located across the street from the downtown library, joins in the fun, too, with a special menu that has a “Star Wars” flavor.
The Joliet event is unique among “Star Wars” events, Callaghan said, because it is such a “family friendly festival. We do have a lot of games, and it is designed for kids and families to take part.”
Games include an obstacle course for kids to run while “Star Wars” storm troopers shoot Nerf balls at them.
Legoland will be there, too.
“ ‘Star Wars’ is very popular with kids who like Legos,” Burns said. “Everything in ‘Star Wars’ has a Lego counterpart.”
Burns does not know how much bigger Star Wars Day can get, but he does think it has good prospects.
“ ‘Star Wars’ is part of popular culture now and will be in the future,” he said. “It will continue to grow.”