Dueling 'Star Wars' holidays battle for fans' attention

Monday, May 4, marks 'Star Wars Day,' followed a day later by 'Revenge of the Fifth.'

Courtesy of Dana Cardenas
Dana Cardenas of Norfolk, Va. wears a Darth Maul mask on Revenge of the Fifth, 2012.
Courtesy of Dana Cardenas
Dana Cardenas poses as Princess Leia at Revenge of the Fifth, 2013, in Norfolk, Va.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Suhay
A seven-year-old poses as a sith lord in Revenge of the Fifth 2013 in Norfolk, Va.

Depending on which side of the Force you're on, the preferred greeting for Star Wars Day is either, “May the Fourth Be With You,” or “Tomorrow we shall exact the Revenge of the Fifth!”

If you’re a fan of the Rebel Alliance, then Monday is your day to dress up and celebrate as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, Han Solo, or any other good guy written into being by George Lucas and friends.

Star Wars Day began around 1979 as a pop culture phenomenon coming out of the pun made on the date, according to the Star Wars website. It first appeared in print that year in a half-page advertisement in the London Evening News, taken out by the Conservative Party to congratulate Margaret Thatcher on becoming prime minister of Britain.

Pinterest has a vast supply of clever recipes, including how to make lightsaber pretzel sticks  and Yoda Soda.

The Star Wars Day Facebook page offers ways for fans to get their midi-chlorians pumping with suggestions for everything from cosplay ideas to event notices.

The next day, Tuesday May 5th, is for the villains. 

On Revenge of the Fifth, many fans will don the black and red of the evil Sith lords whose names begin with “Darth.” A good portion of the Darksiders' day will likely be spent stalking about, breathing in a very pronounced manner, and perhaps doing battle at various events being held around the nation.

Norfolk, Va., is the site of an all-inclusive cosplay lightsaber battle attended by both Rebels and Sith of all ages. The event holds best-out-of-three duels, with attendees wielding everything from store-bought plastic replicas of the weapons to pool noodles. There is also a costume contest.

Last year Dana Cardenas won the “Best Princess” category in Norfolk, Virginia by dressing as a male Princess Leia with a dual bun toupée, a white bathrobe, and a cigar in his teeth (like Princess Vespa's stunt double in "Spaceballs").

In a Facebook chat Mr. Cardenas writes that his love of all things Star Wars began early.

“It was the summer of 1977,” Mr. Cardenas writes. “My dad threw the kids in the Griswold station wagon and took us to our first family movie. It was Star Wars and, if you're old enough to remember, it was in a drive in theater. My sibling enjoyed the movie, sitting on the hood of the car, but I was mesmerized and pulled into it, wrapped in a blanket and on the roof of the wagon. Till this day it has a strong influence on me, from personal license plates to Vader in my email address.”

For Cardenas and many others, which side he celebrates – Rebel or Sith – is immaterial as long as he is having a good time with like-minded fans. “The first two years I went [to Revenge of the Fifth] I was Sith. Last year good guys.”

Fans on both sides often tend to use their events as fundraising opportunities. Saber Guild located in San Bernadino, Calif., regularly performs choreographed lightsaber shows at community events and sci-fi conventions, with all proceeds going to charities such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation, according to the group’s website.

“Bad Guys Doing Good,” is the motto of the 501st Legion. Along with the Rebel Legion have raised a collective total of $32,823,908 funds on Star Wars Day and at other events year-round for Make-A-Wish, Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Club of America, Toys for Tots, and The American Red Cross.

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