Star Wars Celebration I Revisited: Part 3 Fans Helping Fans

7am May 1, 1999: Relaxed and refreshed!

After an unexpectedly long night’s sleep I was ready for Day 2. My 3am snack had long worn off and I awoke in a ravenous mood. I showered and dressed quickly, eager only for the breakfast buffet in the lobby restaurant. Rob and I had agreed to meet there when I took my early leave the evening before. We met up at the elevators and he caught me up on what I missed the night before – not much. A group of fans hung out in the lobby bar and there was a get together advertised at a local club. We talked about going to that night’s Jar Jar Jam – the official Convention party hosted by Ahmed Best and attended by most of the Celebration celebrity guest list – but later found out it was sold out.

After stuffing ourselves on eggs, English muffins, bacon and hash browns we made our way to the bus stop. It hadn’t started raining yet so we could wait outside. I saw my Jedi friend from the day before, dressed in civilian attire, and the folks from the Matrix discussion. We all planned on hanging together for the day’s events and managed to stay together on the bus and at the convention grounds. Later, we met up with a neighbor from one of our many line experiences the day before. His name was Mike, Rob had chatted with him before the opening ceremonies and he happened to find us again. We arrived early enough to consider waiting in the merchandise line. It only snaked about 10 yards out the front of the exhibitor hangar so it seemed a safe bet that we’d have a short wait.

Time was passed swapping rumors of who-saw-who out and about the previous evening. Ray Park was said to have been out at a club, Rick McCallum allegedly hung out with a bunch of fans at some hotel bar. Stories like this seemed out of sorts only because this was not a celebrity accessible event. There were no autographs permitted and fans were told in advance that all special guests would not be signing. There were the occasional signatures being shown off. This gave some credence to the rumors of after hours sightings because everyone was pretty well guarded at the convention grounds. The conversation continued and as the wind pelted a cold drizzle onto our faces. We were used to the inconveniences that Mother Nature had been dolling out over the past 24 hours. Besides, the line was practically inside the exhibitor hangar. Upon peeking through the door we saw that it continued in 3 more rows, each extending nearly half the length of the immense building before reaching the actual entry to the convention store. The only welcome side-effect to this dose of reality was that we were going to be waiting inside.

As time and patience wore on, those in our little group and our neighbors in line agreed to work in shifts. A few people at a time would leave for a trip to the bathroom, a bite to eat or just a change of scenery while the rest kept vigil and took not of everyone’s place in line. Each of us got about three breaks over the next 2 hours. We’d bring back snacks and give away items,  price lists on various items of interest at the vendor tent and get updates on the event schedule which would change on occasion. This was a definite highlight of the weekend, fans working together.

The line moved faster than we actually expected and once we got into the store, it flew by. No one  could wander and browse. Displays were situated near the line so you took what you wanted and paid at the end with some items only available by request at the cash register.

Bogged down with baggage and cardboard poster tubes, it was then time to check out some of the presentations — which meant more lines. Memorable details from the Day 2 shows were watching Ray Park do a standing back flip and stunt demonstration and listening to Warwick Davis complain about Anthony Daniel’s. Apparently, during an earlier presentation, Daniels had made some unflattering remarks about his Ewok expreiences on the ROTJ set and Davis was asked his take during a Q&A. It was all in fun. After his Q&A, Davis was approached by some autograph seekers at the foot of the stage. He obliged. With that, the entire audience made for the stage with programs, badges and markers in hand. He signed for everyone who waited – EVERYONE. Event staffers asked him to come along, but they were ignored. What were they gonna do, carry him off and risk retribution from the wet, cold and line weary masses? This gesture seemed to make up for a lot of previous inconveniences. The fans were happy.

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After getting our Warwick autographs we had enough time to get to the vendor tent to do a little collectible shopping. A Star Wars re release poster with a teaser for the upcoming “Revenge of the Jedi” was tops on my list. It was, in fact, my only vintage collectible purchase of the event and still has a cherished place on my wall.

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Back on the bus, Mike was worried that he wouldn’t have enough cash to last the rest of his stay. Both Rob and I had spent considerably less that we’d planned – not surprising for me, considering the money I saved on food the day before. We offered to buy him dinner at our hotel, Mike was staying at a hotel just down the block so he could get off at our stop and then walk back. During dinner we looked over our stash of give away items, collectibles and Warwick Davis autographs. Later, we chatted with fellow fans in the lobby and got the skinny on the Jar Jar Jam when party goers returned later that evening. Ahmed Best hosted and played with his band, Ray Park sang (really?) and lots of people got drunk. Glad I saved my cash for Day 3.

Soon it was time for bed. One more day on our adventure, already sad to see it coming to an end. Not sad enough to keep from passing out as soon as I met up with my pillow.

… to be continued.

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One response to “Star Wars Celebration I Revisited: Part 3 Fans Helping Fans

  1. Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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