May the 4th be with you all! As a fan of all things Star Wars I always have a little extra pep in my step on this day each year. Sometimes I celebrate by watching the movies or reading a Star Wars novel. Sometimes I engage in methodical nerd battles about the importance of Hans character shooting first and the betrayal leveled by changing it. But today I would like to reflect on a day I not only supplied weapons for a Star Wars-esque battle I manufactured them too!
For several years I coordinated geocaching events with my buddy StealthRt (or just "Stealth" to most of us). He is a well known mover and shaker in the caching community and has nearly a 100 events under his belt, most local to Kansas City. We both have a flair for the dramatic, can talk for hours about hyper focused topics or nothing at all and we love to put on events for our friends. Each year the folks at Groundspeak (parent company of Geocaching.com) would pick a day in the spring for Flash Mobs offering a souvenir icon to attendees and some themed swag in their store. Cachers all across the world coordinate a time and place to appear suddenly, often do something silly then split. The selection of May4th in 2013 was fortuitous (or perhaps suggestive) on their part.
The winter before I found myself sitting at a Chinese buffet in Lee's Summit with Stealth. We had spent more than 2 hours shooting the breeze about caching, family, Wil Wheaton, notable events from our past and the merits of steamed vs fried dumplings before finally discussing the upcoming day of infamy. Many ideas were floated, some were used later while others were too unrealistic even for planners of our caliber. The final result was an amalgamation of our various flavors of fanaticisms and insanity.
We decided to host (what would appeared to be) an impromptu lightsaber battle at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum. They have an impressive lawn on the South side filled with statues and picturesque landscaping. The participants would be divided into two groups representing the Rebels and the Empire. He would handle the coordination of the event page, the story and the exchange of money while I constructed the arsenal (with help from my family) and secure permission. A few auxiliary events were even arranged to arm folks prior to the big event (Olathe Station and J-Darter Station).
The lightsabers were constructed from pool noodles primarily purchased at dollar stores and wrapped in electrical and reflective duct tape. Although the color options were limited I took great care to make sure each and every unit was unique. The length, color patterns, tape application and occasionally addition of adornments were all done in such a way as there were 200 distinctly different props. As the coordinators we naturally put extra time into ours and I claimed the one and only purple saber much like Mr. Samuel L Jackson. We easily invested 40 hours driving from store to store clearing them out of pool noodles, cutting, designing and storing them (transportation to the event was fun).
The day of the event it was all worth it though. We had an excellent turnout and the joy seeing kids and adults alike running around engaging in mock battles, many in costumes was a sight to behold! I was the commander of the Republic and Stealth lead the Alliance forces. The Rebels were attempting to take over control of the "Midi-Tree" which contained the highest known count of midi-chlorians in the universe or se the plot went. Of course once we ran across the courtyard grounds at each other all of this was lost and it was just an opportunity to slap one another with foam. My buddy Marcellus who is a top rate photographer showed to take pictures eventually culminating in a group photo on the museum stairs. All these years later I still have folks come up and mention that event to me. It's a source of pride but also inspires me to want to do something on that level again.