Star Wars Day: A feel good story

May the Fourth be with you. Well, technically that was yesterday but here in Singapore, it is a three-day affair so we still have plenty of time to revel in the celebrations. If you don’t already know, this year’s Star Wars Day is held at the mystical Gardens by the Bay.

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The three-day party begins on May 4th and will culminate in the inaugural Star Wars Run on May 6th. There are nightly shows at the Supertree Grove which ends with the supertrees themselves turning into lightsabers — honestly, to us, the lights converge which makes it look like the beams from the superlaser on the Death Star.

Besides the nightly musical performances, visitors get to meet and take photos with – what we reckon to be – Disney Land-endorsed Kylo Ren and Chewbacca. There are also myriad events such as life-sized AT-ST, Star Wars-themed silent disco and cool merchandise up for grabs. See the entire calendar on the Gardens by the Bay website.

By Today newspaper’s count, 8,000 people joined the first day celebrations. And we can attest to the crowd. However, it thinned out around 9pm so there was a little more breathing room. Visitors who are hyped out by Star Wars Day at Gardens by the Bay, and just can’t get enough, should make their way to Legoland Malaysia for their month-long Star Wars Day celebrations. You can read more about it on GeekCulture’s post.

What this post wants to focus on is a story that not many people know. To the revellers and visitors, Star Wars Day is another celebration. It’s another way for Disney and Lucasfilm to market their franchise. It’s just another “tourist thing”. But the truth could not be further from the truth.

Force for Good

Star Wars Day was started by three fans (duh!) of Star Wars. But more than just sharing their love for the Star Wars universe, they are brought together with a Death-Star sized heart for the less fortunate. Every Star Wars Day event in Singapore had raised funds for charity organisations.

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Charities that have benefited in the past include Willing Hearts and the Make A Wish Singapore. This year’s beneficiary is the Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH) Health Endowment Fund. The fund helps needy children and parents seeking financial assistance. It also supports education, research and disease prevention programmes targeted at women’s and children’s health. You can read more about it in the link above.

Hansen Khoo, one of the organisers of the event told us they chose KKH Health Endowment Fund because they believed in nurturing the future and, well, KKH had approached him at another charity event. Khoo is also a member of the 501st Singapore Garrison, a costuming fan club that often makes appearances for charity. The local 501st Legion had worked with KKH on many occasions.

Proceeds from some of the fan stalls will go to the KKH Health Endowment Fund. That includes merchandise such as these Star Wars pins designed by local design group FlabSlab. The pins are a duplicate of woven patches that were distributed at the Star Wars Celebration held at Orlando, United States of America earlier this year.

The pins, which comes in a set of four uniquely Singaporean designs, will be sold at $10 each. There are only 30 sets available so grab, grab, grab! Aside from the pins, FlabSlab has also created three new patch designs – different from those given out at Orlando – to be sold at $66 each. For order 66, said Khoo with a chuckle. Funny. Purchases are cash only so remember to hit the ATM before you visit the show.

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Uniquely Singaporean Star Wars patches by FlabSlab for sale in aid of KKH Health Endowment Fund. Photo: Jeffrey Koh

Love from the kampung

To say the fans in Singapore are a community is an understatement. As we walked about during set up on May 3, we found a homely, kampung vibe. Everybody knew everybody. And if you didn’t, you would soon be welcomed in to the family.

A particular stall we have to mention is the Shooting Gallery by Sons of Star Wars. Everywhere we went, and everyone we spoke to said to visit the booth. So the premise is pretty simple. You’re a rebel pilot and your snowspeeder had just crashed on the Battle of Hoth. You have to choose one of two blasters and take out the AT-ATs. Take the beasts down and you win a prize. We have to stop here to say these prizes are no ordinary lelong stuff. Yesterday’s grand prize was The Khettana playset (Jabba’s Sail Barge) from the Vintage Collection. O.M.G!

Prizes are replenished daily and prizes not won at the end of the three-day event will be donated to the 501st Singapore Garrison at the end of the year, said stall owner, Michael Nicholas.

Everyone we spoke to would invariably tell us how generous Nicholas is. When we asked him about it, he bashly pushed it aside. “I’m not doing anything,” says Nicholas. “I’m just giving back to the community.” Nicholas tells us how his love for Star Wars was strengthened when he learned about the charity work done by the 501st. “When I was a teenager, I saw how the 501st organised charity events at the screening of Revenge of the Sith at Lido. Now I want to give back, and do the same. It’s about passing the torch,” said Nicholas.

Fans have also gathered in a creative pursuit to create Star Wars art that will be sold to aid KKH Health Endowment Fund. There are 40 art (we’d like to call them sculptures?) pieces sold at $250 each, with all proceeds going to KKH. In particular is a Malay Keris-inspired lightsaber that will light up any display case. Created by Muzz, who also sells custom Star Wars-themed backpacks (IG: @m.workz), the lightsaber imagined as an ancient Asian weapon excited us. Other noteworthy designs are a steampunk miniature Stormtrooper helmet, a Japanese-samurai style lightsaber and others.

Fan the fiery passion

What we love about Star Wars Day is the connection with fans. Saiful Mahmood (IG: @psyfoolrulez_customz) is a regular participant at the event. And his custom-made Yavin Base diorama grows by the year. He shows us the additions excitedly – including adding LED lights to the X-Wing fighter. “I’m not good at electronics,” he chuckles in embarrassment but we think it’s so beautiful we actually put our hand to the afterburner expecting it to radiate heat. The model building group said they only got to know each other through Star Wars Day. The event had brought fans together, and they are friends now.

Another friend we had met at the event was toy photographer, Sunny Ang (IG/FB: @Zekezachzoom. The prolific photographer was invited to share his secrets on shooting miniatures. To do this, Ang specially built a “simple” diorama for fans to try their hands at toy photography. Under his guidance, this is our effort. If you want to try to make your own set, Ang has posted a step-by-step guide on how he built the set below.

IMG_2305 Don’t be surprised to come to Star Wars Day and find a loving friendly community. No disgruntled people in the queues, no shoving, everyone is filled with love and hope – you know, the kampung vibe. Through this year’s event, we have made some new friends too. If you’re visiting, don’t just see through the lens of a “tourist”, take some time and speak to the fans. You’ll soon find yourself in a family in this part of the galaxy far far away.

 

 

 

 

 

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