"G" is for Galaxy, and in a galaxy not too far away I had the opportunity to entertain the crowd who came out to watch the Oklahoma City Barons play hockey. (I know the "G" here is a stretch, but go with me. It was a blast).
I am a member of a local Star Wars fan club, the largest Star Wars fan club in Oklahoma: JediOKC. The club has been going strong now for over ten years, is family friendly, and does a great amount of charity work for the region. We raise money for Spencer Children's Hospital and MDA, and entertain children all over the metro area with our awesome costumes and great attitude. Of course we hit most of the major fanboy movie premieres, dressing up as superheroes for the comic book movies, but Star Wars has always been the central costuming focus of our club.
The evening started by gathering rink-side as we crowded into a small bathroom to change into our costumes. We're used to that, so it wasn't a big deal. Once we were outfitted, things began to feel like a full time job. Our Vader Shawn Lippe (we have two in the club with the Dark Lord's costume) paraded out to ceremonially drop the puck to start the game. We walked around the second level, often finding ourselves on the jumbotron, and then later we tossed t-shirts from the ice to the stands as eager fans screamed. The highlight of my evening came when I was standing just outside the doors where the players enter and exit the ice, waiting for our next appearance.
I stood just outside the doors and one of the entertainers popped out and asked me how dexterous I was with my hands in gloves. He said: "If I hold these envelopes out in this fan shape can you choose two envelopes, one with each hand, and then hold them up on either side of you?" I told him that it wouldn't be a problem, and he ushered me toward the ice as I watched them scrambling back stage to get ready for a big contest where they were going to give away two brand new cars. The tension mounted as we walked out onto the ice and found a large circular carpet where I was instructed to stand, directly on center ice. This is where it, as we say in Oklahoma, "got a little squirrely."
I watched through the visor of my helmet as the man who told me he would be holding the envelopes up close to my face started laying the envelopes all over the carpet in a random pattern. I was then told to pick two of them up from the carpet. Luckily they couldn't see my face beneath my helmet because they would have seen one puzzled Mandalorian. I don't sit well at all in the costume because of the armor, and bending down to pick something up off of the ground is a Herculean task. Images of me tossing forward onto the carpeted ice to the guffaws of a beer swilling crowd flashed through my mind. Without thinking, I bent low and was just able to snatch two envelopes from the carpet. I handed them to the announcer and he then went through the process of choosing the winners of the cars with a plinko game.
I love doing these type of events, but last night was definitely one of the highlights of my days with the JediOKC crew. All of this is thanks to one man who works tirelessly in the background to see that we get to do these kinds of events. He had been working for at least three years to get the Barons to do a Star Wars night, securing a set of free tickets for all of us, and then helping us find our marks for the entertainment crew and the cameras. Rick Young is one of the hardest working guys I know, and some day we will realize our dream of having a Oklahoma City Thunder Star Wars night and get some national attention. This will go a long way to helping us reach our fund raising goals for our charities.
Our next event is to dress up for the new Iron Man film that releases May 3rd, and the next day is Free Comic Book Day across the nation at every comic book store. If you are in the Oklahoma City area, check out our website to find out where we will be and then look us up. Bring your children. They'll have a blast, and in so doing, so will you.