There were several Star Wars Reads Day events in the Bay Area. After bribing her with the chance to see special guest R2-D2, a friend and I made our way to the Vacaville Town Square Library around 10:30. There were children already outside of the entrance playing with neon colored poster board lightsabers, shouting all kinds of Star Wars things at each other. It was pretty darned cute.
The kids, parents, and helpful staff members were clustered into a meeting room near the entrance, giving Artoo easy access to wander periodically in and out among the stacks and regular library patrons. There were several tables stationed around the room for each craft: a lightsaber, which made use of rolled up poster board and a pommel print out; a Princess Leia bun made from braided yarn, a circle of felt, hot glue, and bobby pins to actually wear the finished product (we made Leia buns and proudly pinned them in our hair), coloring books and crayons, and a Wookiee fortune teller.
Someone was also walking around handing out Darth Vader masks, what I think were bookmarks, and a flyer for the R2-D2 Builders Club; I spoke very briefly to Johnathan, Artoo’s handler and builder, who did a fantastic job with the line of kids that kept materializing for their chance to have a photo taken with Artoo at the makeshift portrait studio staff had assembled in the corner of the room.
It was noisy and crowded but a lot of fun. I’m glad the tables were set up to funnel the kids toward the portrait studio and eventually rotate back into the greater library. Sure, some of the stations were more popular than others (pink lightsabers seemed to be the hot ticket item), but the variety of things to do allowed parents time to join in the fun and kids of all ages to find something to keep them occupied while they waited to meet Artoo. There was also a raffle for free books, most of which weren’t Star Wars (if there was a Star Wars book in there, I didn’t see one. To be honest, I only vaguely glanced at this station), but covered a broad range of readers. That’s really the whole point of promoting literacy and reading, right? Besides, the library made a Star Wars book display out front, which quickly dwindled down as the event wore on.
A projection screen had already been lowered when we got in, but with the lights on, I could only hear what was playing (very softly) and didn’t at first register that anything was on the screen. In fact, I made a comment about being impressed that staff chose to play the soundtrack to A New Hope before belatedly realizing the movie was actually playing in the background, on the projector screen. This is one of my only complaints and isn’t even really that. The kids seemed to know what was going on since it was one of their enthusiastic cries of “Hey it’s Obi-Wan!” that prompted me to make out his lightsaber battle with Vader barely visible behind me.
Given the limited amount of space, I think the library staff did a great job. However, a few kids came dressed up, expecting a costume contest only to be disappointed when staff seemed confused. Despite being on the flyer, there was no costume contest or prizes for one by the time my friend and I had to leave around 20 minutes before the end of the official event. The flyer also mentioned a trivia game. The only trivia I happened to hear was from Johnathan good naturally quizzing some of the kids.
It was still a fun event and something that seemed to work well with the library’s normal function for the day. Johnathan was a fantastic sport and I want to give him a big thank you for sharing Artoo with all of the kids and attendees (he also took him to Celebration earlier this year). It was another great reminder that fan dedication and enthusiasm runs high. The years it took to work on that R2 unit are definitely being appreciated. Although, I do kind of wish we’d been able to stay longer so I could have seen first hand Artoo’s autographed innards.
A big thanks to the Vacaville Town Square Library and staff for pulling it all off! I hope they’re able to participate again next year.