BY Molly Congdon
Darth Vader turned the corner cloaked in black, his face shielded from peering eyes by his infamous mask, his even, heavy breathing sounding like an astronaut sealed in a spacesuit.
Perhaps it really is hard to breathe when your face is surrounded by plastic.
This Dark Lord of the Sith just needed to grow a couple more feet to convince the crowd gathered at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library for the Star Wars Extravaganza on Jan. 19 that he was the real deal.
With schools off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Youth Services Department of the library wanted to provide a little family fun, immersing all in attendance in the world of George Lucas in a galaxy far, far away.
It was the third Star Wars Extravaganza the library has hosted.
“I did this theme because I am a ‘Star Wars’ buff,” said Youth Services Librarian Lucina Robertson, the event’s organizer. “We also like to link these events to literature.”
The morning began with crafts
— “Star Wars”-themed, of course. Wookie bookmarks were constructed by gluing red, white, black and gray pieces to a strip of dark brown felt. Naboo Star Stiffs were erected with craft sticks and rubber bands, and the younglings scribbled within the lines of photocopied “Star Wars” coloring book pages in various Crayola hues.
It wasn’t until 1 p.m. that the Jedi training commenced in the activity room. One mother told her son to visit the bathroom before learning the ways of the Force.
“Jedi don’t go potty,” the little padawan said.
A line of 115 children waited to create their own lightsabers out of pre-slit polyethylene pipe insulation and duct tape to serve as the polished metal hilt. After they were forged, it was time to enter the training area.
Despite being composed of foam material, the energy blades seemed to glow in green, blue and red, and one could almost hear the electric hums as they clashed against the white inflated balloons, which served as training droids, together in the heat of battle. In order to continue on to the Jedi obstacle course, one had to keep the “droid” in the air for 10 hits.
The course was not for the faint-hearted. First the apprentices had to test their bravery by crawling through the ice cave of a Wampa on the planet Hoth. Then they had to hop on their speeders and fly through the forests of Endor without becoming entangled in the trees.
Later, they were forced to travel through Naboo without touching the water and provoking an attack from the Opee sea monster.
Their pilot skills were judged by tossing beanbags into a brown paper-covered container, representing ships landing in the asteroid pit. Every time a beanbag was tossed into the opening, the child was able to advance in ranks from new recruit to flight officer, fighter pilot and squadron leader — a level that only a few were able to reach.
Next they had to jump the plank in Tatooine. It was after this impediment that they were finally able to make it to Yoda. Thanks to Dan McManamon, a lifelike replication of the wise, green, wrinkled Jedi Master stood and seemed to be saying: “Take picture with you I will.”
To celebrate surviving the journey through the course, the weary Jedi headed to the Mos Eisley Cantina. Once there, they were able to trade their Galactic Credits, which were tiny squares of red and green construction paper, for Galactic Goodies such as Chocolate Chewies, Skywalker Snickerdoodles, Darth Malts, Wookie Cookies, Emperor Energy Bars, Light Sider/Dark Sider cupcakes and refreshing cups of Padawan Punch. The food was courtesy of the Friends of the Library volunteers.
Viewing the original movie
The last phase of the day was the viewing of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” originally released in 1977, back when some of the parents were little children.
For a few hours Monday, the children’s imaginations took them to a magical realm where they felt adventurous and unstoppable.
Not a better way to spend a day there is.
BY Molly Congdon