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May the Fourth Be with You — a Viridian tradition

May 30, 2017 12:36PM ● Published by Kelly Cannon

Cosplayers took the stage for the costume contest at the Viridian Event Center’s Star Wars party. (Natalie Conforto/City Journals)

Gallery: May the Fourth Be with You — a Viridian tradition [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Natalie Conforto | natalie.c@mycityjournals.com

The Salt Lake Comic Con FanX has come and gone until next fall. Now what? Millions of sci-fi fans and a convenient play on words agree that Star Wars deserves its own holiday, and the Viridian Event Center has answered the call. 

For the second year running, the Salt Lake County Library Services has hosted all manner of Jedi and Sith to celebrate America’s largest grossing sci-fi film franchise on May 4: Star Wars Day.
 
“I think they did an amazing job of putting all the décor up. They really went all out,” said Annicka Woodward. 

“We were going for a cheesy cantina theme, and creating a bar-cantina atmosphere,” said Tyler Curtis, the event center manager at the Viridian. Just like that scene in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (where Han Solo shot first at the bounty hunter Greedo), the Viridian was decked out in space-age metallics, star-like twinkle lights and aliens from all over the galaxy. 

While actors staged a barroom lightsaber duel, John Williams’ “Imperial March” (remixed with a techno beat) and music from a lip-sync battle completed the cantina ambience. A photographer was available to take free pictures of fans with film poster standees and a giant AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).

“You wouldn’t think that library employees would go to so much effort. It was fun,” said Michael Woodward, who was also impressed with the turnout. Four hundred and fifty people reserved tickets for the event.

David Woodruff, the event emcee, wore an Imperial general costume as he spoke to the crowd about why they all came. 

“Those stories about good triumphing over evil really means something, and whether you’re dressing up as a storm trooper or an Ewok, people want to embrace that feeling that they get the first time they see Star Wars,” he said. 
 
The main event of the evening was the costume contest. Of the 450 attendees, about 70 guests were fully clad from “a galaxy far, far away.” Wookiees, Jedi and Naboo queens were plentiful, but the grand prize went to West Jordan resident Gary Lizaso for his homemade Lando Calrissian costume. He also fashioned his wife Amanda’s Poe Dameron costume, which took second place. 

Local cosplayers have started to include the Viridian’s event to their yearly docket, right between the March and September Comic Cons. Just like a Comic Con, vendors were onsite with rare fan items for sale, like Rebel Alliance backpacks and Princess Leia accessories. Unlike a Comic Con, however, the Viridian’s party was completely free.  

Cosplayers Gary and Amanda Lizaso attend Comic Cons as often as possible, and they appreciated the price of the May 4 party. 

 “Comic Con tickets are around a hundred bucks,” Gary said, and Amanda added, “the free food was nice.”

Light refreshments and Star Wars–themed snacks were provided, including “Vader Sabers” (red licorice), “Death Star Holes” (donut holes), “Princess Lays” (potato chips) and even mocktails (alcohol free). 

Unfortunately, not everyone got to enjoy the galactic fare. 

“The food and drink line was a little ridiculous. We didn’t even make it to that because it was so long,” said Annicka Woodward, who decided with her group to wait until the line died down before getting some food. That never happened; there were still at least 20 people in line at the end of the party. 

Despite missing out on the food, Woodward still had a great time. 

“Everything they had going on stage was pretty good,” she said. “I liked the game shows, and the trivia seemed to be pretty popular.” 

The county library offers regular, free events for all ages throughout the year. This one was for adults only. 

“At the library, we love touching a number of different communities,” Curtis said. “Obviously, sci-fi and geek culture is really popular in Utah. This event provides a fun and engaging way for adults to be involved with the library.” 

This year’s Star Wars party almost doubled in attendance from last year’s event, which proves it was a success. The library hopes to make the party a tradition. 
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