I had my first Troop with the Rebel Legion this weekend. For those unaware a "troop" is essentially a sanctioned costuming appearance. We do these for charity and volunteer purposes--library fundraisers, Children's Hospital, stuff like that.
This weekend the 911th Air Wing (Air Force Reserves) in Coraopolis, PA held their annual Family Day picnic, and we did an appearance to honor the troops, which was advertised as "Meet the Characters from Star Wars." The event was nominally for the 501st Legion--an Imperial costuming group and our sister organization, but they were nice enough to invite us along. Only two of us, unfortunately, could make it, but it was nice having two Jedi along with Darth Vader and the rest of the Imps.
Besides we two Jedi and Vader, we had two stormtroopers, a biker scout, a nova trooper (from the Expanded Universe--they have black armor), and an Imperial gunner.
It was a blast. A great time for my first trooping. It was awesome getting to meet Tharren (my fellow Rebel) and his boys, and the Carida (local 501st base) folks were fantastic, friendly and welcoming to a n00b like me. It was hot as heck, but the Carida folks said it was far hotter last year. I just know by the end of the day my whole costume was about a shade darker.
The appearance was from noon to 2:00. We were all there by 11, and had an hour to get ready...and by 2:00 my calves were KILLING me from my new boots. I was so not gellin'! Part of this is because my Jedi boots are actually women's dress boots, and the heels on them are about 2 inches high--boot heels, not normal high heels, of course, but even still! I definitely need to look into some good cushioned inserts for them, preferably with good arch support.
I got to rock my custom lightsaber, which was pretty cool. And during the first hour I was the only one with an LED saber (Tharren and Jay only had their hilts with them), so I had a couple kids ask to hold it. For the second hour, after our break, Jay broke out his Force FX saber, and he and I, then he and Tharren, crossed blades a teensy bit. Nothing fancy, just a couple light bumps for photos. Sadly, Julie missed the photo op with Jay and I...but someone in Carida got it so I'm hoping to snag a copy.
I got a few pictures via Julie--the Carida folks took a bunch, and I am trying to get contact info to get in touch with them, as I'd love to get copies of their photos.
I've posted mine on facebook, though sadly Julie's camera tends to blur the edges of shots...there must be a setting adjustment we're missing on it somewhere. Last night Julie discovered a "blur reduction" setting which we will try out next time.
Highlight of the day for me: We were all taking refuge from the heat inside a C94 transport plane (at least, I think it was a C94) that was open to the public for tours, and this little kid ran up to Jay (Vader) and cried....
"ARE YOU OPTIMUS PRIME!?"
Jay didn't even miss a beat. He said, "Yes. Yes, I am."
Seriously, I remember being 6 years old when Empire Strikes Back came out, and my mom took me downtown to Kaufmann's department store, because Darth Vader was appearing there. I have NEVER forgotten meeting Darth Vader, and the looks on those kids' faces when they ran up to Jay was priceless. I'd have happily suffered months of calf pain for that. It really showed me why we do this; those kids, too, will never forget meeting Darth Vader. It was kind of like paying it forward for a memorable moment in my own childhood.
All in all, a great time. I really enjoyed myself, and I hope the Carida folks were happy with Tharren's and my decorum and behavior. I'd love to do it again.
UPDATE: Here are the photos taken by Candy, from the 501st Carida Garrison: