The Kaleidoscope

40 Years of Star Wars

Celebrating Four Decades of the Galaxy's Greatest Fandom

Luke Steichen, Head Video Producer

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I spent Easter weekend in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center for Star Wars Celebration 2017; being a lifelong fan of the franchise I can tell you with absolute certainty that it was an experience unlike I’ve ever had. I’d been wanting to go to this for many years, and the K-Scope provided me an opportunity to cover it for this newspaper, as well as accomplishing a personal dream of mine.

I’ve never seen queues this long in my life. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

When going to an event like this you have to mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare yourself for waiting in lines for many hours and constantly being on the move for up to 10 hours a day for multiple days in a row. It’s not for the faint of heart (or body, for that matter), but once you’re in the thick of it you end up running on pure adrenaline. Over the course of my four days at the convention I saw things that awed, surprised, delighted, and even moved me emotionally (I know what you’re thinking: “How could a film franchise emotionally move you?” Well I’ll get to that shortly).

The show floor was littered with incredible cosplay and fan-built droids. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

Once you get past the seemingly endless security line and actually step foot into the show floor, it’s like entering another realm of existence; one where things you saw as a child on a television screen that helped form your creativity and blew the doors open of your imagination roam freely. It really is a surreal feeling and it is honestly the closest thing to going back in time and reliving your childhood, where everything is new and exciting again — you never know what or who you might bump into while wading through thousands of fans having the same out-of-body experience as you.

A life-size Jedi Starfighter was one of countless attractions on the show floor.(Photo by Luke Steichen.)

The thousands of square feet of the show floor was filled to the brim with exclusive merchandise, film props in glass cases, life size replicas of ships and characters to take photos with, a food court, tattoo parlor, a droid racing arena, the Star Wars Show Live stage, and the list goes on and on. That doesn’t even include the numerous other rooms in the convention center, which held hundreds of panels over the four days. It really is a staggeringly massive operation.

The Star Wars Show Live Stag.e (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

The event kicked off with the 40th Anniversary Panel, where George Lucas surprised the audience by coming on stage followed shortly by Harrison Ford, which was his first ever Celebration appearance. To top it all off, a curtain opened and to everyone’s surprise and amazement John Williams himself with his full orchestra was there to play the Saga’s music live on stage. I unfortunately wasn’t able to be in the room where this happened, because I wasn’t one of those people who spent the night in the queue 12 hour,s before the event began. I’m a massive fan, but I’m not going to forgo a hotel room for the cold concrete floor. I did catch some of it on the livestream and the concert was played throughout the entire convention center.

Crew at the Builders’ Club area building a massive Lego Millenium Falcon.(Photo by Luke Steichen.)

Among the incredible panel experiences, I have included an hour long panel with Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), a Droids panel featuring Anthony Daniels (C3-PO) and Alan Tudyk (K2-SO), a special tribute to the late Carrie Fisher with Mark Hamill, a look behind the scenes of the making of Rogue One with Lucasfilm visual effects artist and production designer Doug Chiang, and many, many more.

Rogue One Production Designer Doug Chiang. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

At the Star War Show Live stage, I got to see many big stars of the film as well. I saw Hayden Christensen (Anakin), Dennis Lawson (Wedge), and Mark Hamill (Luke) among others. Being within a stone’s throw from my childhood (and adulthood) hero (Hamill) was one of the highlights of the whole event. I breathed the same air as Luke Skywalker!


Mark Hamill on stage. (Photo from Luke Steichen).

As well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars, 2017 also sees the release of the next film in the saga in December titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was able to crowd around the Star Wars Show Live stage packed like sardines with thousands of people to watch the Last Jedi panel and see the world premiere of the first teaser trailer, while Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Kathleen Kennedy, and Director Rian Johnson took the main stage upstairs.

My view of the livestreamed The Last Jedi panel with members of the cast and Director Rian Johnson. (Photo from Luke Steichen.)

Part of the fun was just walking the show floor to see all the creative cosplay and the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise for sale. Everywhere you turned there was something you could purchase or admire while you sulk at your lack of disposable income.


Cosplayers posing in front of a rack of merchandise. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

High quality scale figurines were sold by one of the vendors. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

Some original artwork sold at the Star Wars Art Show. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

Bandai’s replicas of various Star Wars spacecraft (Photo by Luke Steichen)

One of the actual models of the Death Star II’s turrets for sale. (Photo by Luke Steichen.)

As I said earlier, besides the awe-inspiring, amazing, and mind-blowing things I saw at Star Wars Celebration, I was also humbled and moved by the whole thing in ways I didn’t expect. Being in one place with 75,000 other people celebrating a franchise that has stayed in the pop culture lexicon for forty years and is stronger than ever is a testament to Star Wars’ staying power; the way in which it brings people together is amazing. You don’t realize just how beloved Star Wars is until you’ve gone to Celebration and stood among throngs of people dressed as Imperial officers, Sith Lords, Jedi, and fighter pilots. I saw 2 year olds conversing with 80+ year olds using walkers and heard people from all over the world having conversations among themselves, translating for each other. It truly encompasses every race, creed, age, religion, etc. In politically charged times such as these with our country more divided than ever, it was truly touching to see thousands of people coming together and putting aside their differences to celebrate our common love of this Galaxy far, far away.


(Photo by Luke Steichen.)

So, in honor of the lasting legacy of Star Wars and the fans who have been there every step of the way for the past 40 years, I leave you with this gallery of cosplayers from the event. Here’s to the next 40 years and as always, may the Force be with you.




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