MORRIS – Fans of “Star Wars” have created their own holiday on May 4 as a way to celebrate the intergalactic saga of good versus evil.
On Sunday, members of Chicago Jedi, a local group of fans, participated in the celebration at the Morris Area Public Library, teaching those in attendance how to use their lightsabers during a May the Fourth Be With You event, a play on the phrase, “May The Force be with you,” often spoken in the “Star Wars” films.
“We started in 2006 as a group of people inspired by the Jedi knights,” Gabriel Calderon said. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we were like them?”
In the “Star Wars” universe, Jedi are guardians who use The Force – described in the films as an energy field created by all living things that binds the galaxy together – to fight for peace and justice in the Galactic Republic.
Chicago Jedi strive to “walk the path of the Jedi in our real lives. We’re not just ‘Star Wars’ fans, but people who see a core of truth in its philosophy that is worth bringing into the world,” according to the group’s website.
The group is not made up of just “Star Wars” fans, though: Members come from all walks of life who want to experience the world as it should be, according to Calderon.
“There are costuming groups out there who just wear the costumes and perform,” Ross Greenberg said. “We are more like a martial arts group. It’s a mind, body and spirit thing. We take ideas from ‘Star Wars’ Jedi and integrate them into our lives.”
Not all present were channeling The Force for good like the Jedi. Eight-year-old Teddy Morrison of Morris came to the event dressed as Darth Vader, who is considered a villain in many of the films.
“Darth Vader is my favorite,” Morrison said. “He can choke anyone.”
Morrison wasn’t the only Darth Vader fan in attendance. Griffin Benson, 5, of Plainfield, came with his brother, Max, and his grandparents and said he likes “Darth Vader because he’s awesome. I have ‘Star Wars’ Legos that I play with.”
Regardless of which way they used The Force, those who attended the library’s event were able to undergo classes to teach them some of the basic moves used in lightsaber battles.
Don and Amber Sharp of Ottawa brought their children because they love the “Star Wars” saga.
“We did it as a surprise for the kids, they’ve seen all six movies,” Amber Sharp said. “I’ve seen them so much I have parts memorized.”
Rose Nowak, the library’s teen coordinator, said she has worked for the past year on organizing the event.
“I started working on this a year ago. I wanted to have the 501st Legion – the bad guys – here, but they weren’t available,” Nowak said. “I began researching and found the Chicago Jedi and saw that they do lightsaber training, and I thought it would be cool to have them come.”
Adam Mahalas of Morris brought his children because they aren’t just into “Star Wars” but also the library. His oldest son goes to Anime Club also led by Nowak.
“It sounded really cool,” said Anna Allison, an employee of the library who came in to volunteer her time. “I hope the patrons enjoy it as much as we do.”
In addition to the lightsaber training performed by the Chicago Jedi, those in attendance also participated in “Star Wars” bingo and got to smash apart a Death Star pinata filled with candy to take home.
Chicago Jedi strives to: “Provide encouragement and opportunities for the spiritual, physical, and mental improvement of our members. Support and assist the local community through fundraising and donation of time. Promote a sense of community, continuity, and involvement within our Chapter and the larger Jedi community. Educate others as to what it means to be a Jedi in the real world.”