In 2010 I made a Han Solo costume, for the sole purpose of wearing it to Star Wars Celebration V(on the Saturday of the Con), in Orlando Florida. I went there by myself, to meet up with friends. Strangely enough, I never met up with them. Thursday and Friday, of the con were fun, but uneventful. But, Saturday was a different story.
I had the entire costume made, except for the gun belt. So, Friday night, I stayed up late making the gun belt out of vinyl I brought(I made the buckles out of aluminum cans!). I wandered into the con on Saturday, and basically found a pillar to lean against, while I attempted to reach my friends through texting. While lazily leaning, it happened.
Folks started coming up, asking me if they could take pictures with me(just like the Jack Sparrow incidents). Well, I obliged. And obliged again, and again, and again, and so on! It was fun! People of all ages were taking photos. But the ones that moved me the most, and were my favorites, were the ones with special needs(i.e. Autistic, down syndrome, and such…). They were the happiest to see me! Me! Just a guy who made and wore his costume!
Well, eventually it died down to where I could leave and wander the exhibit hall. I saw the Rebel Legion and 501st Legion booths, and thought they were pretty cool, though at the time, I had no idea what they were about. I took lots of photos of other folks costumes(LOTS), bought a few things, and eventually wandered back out the the pillar. This is where I met my first new friend at the con.
Trudy was(and is) awesome. She had taken a photo with me, and knew I was having trouble finding the friends I was supposed to meet up with. I think she felt sorry for me(LOL). We wandered around and talked, sharing our experiences, until it was time for me to hop on the bus to Disney/MGM for the Last Flight to Endor. Which is where I met my next new friend.
I hopped on the bus, and found myself a seat. Soon, an orange monolith(very tall) of a man sat across the aisle from me. This is going to sound terrible, but I don’t quite remember what we talked about, or how the conversation started, but I do know it was Gregor who spoke first. But, due to the laughing, I know we were making jokes and smart alec remarks. This has continued to this day, but I remember those! Anyway, we both got there and hopped off the bus. It was nightfall, and we were able to go right into the park, in costume! And, all the while, still joking around.
Soon we ran into the group that Gregor was meeting up with. I am sad to say I don’t quite remember who was with us exactly, except for Shawn. Shawn was dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi, with a Yoda puppet in tow. So, it was the three of us exchanging jokes and sarcastic comments everywhere we went. Our Star Wars herd migrated all over the park, up until the fanfare that was The Last Flight to Endor.
When the festivities began, we three were up near the front. And, it turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000, right there. We were heckling and joking, throughout the precedings. Though, I don’t think they could hear us(LOL). After it was over, they allowed us to take pictures of Yoda, at the podium they used.
After that, the park was closing, so we all went our separate ways. I hopped on the bus, back to my hotel, and collapsed in my room. The following morning I went to the final day of the con. I was dressed in shorts and a Star Wars T-shirt. I eventually found Shawn, and we hung out and wandered the convention.
We were in the Ralph McQuarrie gallery, when a man came to me and said,”My daughter took a picture with you yesterday.” He handed me a little stuffed Han Solo plush-like doll, and thanked me. Before I could really say anything, he was gone. I think I was blushing. I asked Shawn if that sort of thing happens to him, and it did/does.
This incident, and all of the people that wanted photos the day before, cemented in my mind what I wanted to do. If I can make someone’s day a little better, just by wearing a costume, then that was it! I found out what I could, and changed my costume, so it was screen accurate. Shawn helped me quite a bit! Even supplied me with a trooper belt. Then I submitted photos to the Rebel Legion.
I didn’t get accepted. I told Shawn. And because of his diligence, I am a member of the Rebel Legion. I get to go to childrens hospitals, military bases, libraries, etc. dressed as Han Solo! I get to brighten their days a little bit. And the best part is, the smiles. I shouldn’t be biased, but making the kids smile, is my favorite over everyone(and everything) else.
So, I pretend to be a Han Solo, several times a year. I dress up as a character from a movie out of the 70s. I smile just as much as the kids do. But, that’s what it’s all about; bringing smiles to others. And, I hope I get to do it til the end of my days!