The ‘Force’ invades Jones Creek Library

More than 150 children and parents, many dressed as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Jedi warriors and other Star Wars characters crowded into the Jones Creek Library on Saturday for the 7th annual Star Wars Costume Fan Day.

The kids played such games as “bowling for Clone Troopers” at the popular event, hosted by the Red Stick Rebellion Collector’s Club. They raced remote-controlled R2-D2 droid around a short track, built Star Wars Lego toys and had their faces painted to look like their favorite characters.

Red Stick Rebellion co-founder Wayne Dupree said the annual event has become a fan favorite and the group was very pleased with the turnout. His Star Wars group was assisted by Star Trek members of the “USS Corsair,” a Baton Rouge chapter of Starfleet International.

“We had people waiting at the door before we even got here,” Dupree said.

He expressed gratitude to those who turned out for filling five barrels with donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank. A can of soup or box of cheesy-mac donation meant a child could take a dozen shots with a Nerf pistol at a Jedi warrior or storm trooper from the 501st Legion at a display in the main lobby.

One of those storm troopers who offered himself up as a target was Tommy Chiasson. He was having a good time, despite being shot multiple times with suction-cupped foam darts.

“We love doing this for the kids,” Chiasson said from under his helmet. “It’s a lot of fun and for a good cause.”

Justine Castille was already at the library with her four children, Raylon Tyler, 9, Shania Rosette, 8, Seth Rosette, 7, and Darius Rosette, 6, something they do every Saturday, when the event began.

“We did the bowling and the remote control,” Seth Rosette said excitedly, adding that he also shot the storm trooper with the Nerf gun and “it was cool!”

Down the hall in one of the two conference rooms where activities were underway, X-wing fighter pilot Bart Pittari, with the Degobah Base of the Rebellion, from New Orleans, was overseeing the droid races.

“It’s harder than it look,” Pittari said. “This is a great way to give back to the community and give the kids some fun.”

Chad Roark and his son, Stuart, 8, dressed as Captain Rex, a Clone War commander, were having a father-son outing. Stuart drew several Star Wars characters with crayons and taped them to the wall for a later contest. He also successfully dueled Darth Vader with a light saber at the Jedi Training Academy.

“It’s all about having fun with my son and watching him enjoy some of the things I enjoyed as a kid,” Chad Roark said.

Katy Bordelon, of Central, dressed in a brown Jedi robe, and her daughter Anna, 4, dressed in a white robe like Princess Leia, were also drawing together. Anna later got her face painted and posed for photographs with several of the adult characters.

“We both enjoy Star Wars very much,” Bordelon said. “She loves princesses and I love Star Wars, and this is a good way for us to connect.”

David Jones, of Denham Springs, was wearing the most complicated (and scary) costume as General Grievous of the Clone Wars. Jones was completely covered with a purple and gray robe and worked the General’s robotic exoskeleton like a puppeteer behind a curtain.

“The kids absolutely love it — they go crazy when they see me,” Jones said. “It’s like the character jumped off the screen for them.”

Back at the front lobby, kids and parents were still lined up awaiting turns to shoot the storm troopers and occasional Jedi knights with the Nerf pistols, and putting canned goods into the Food Bank barrels.

Rashmi Venugapal, Food Bank’s chief financial officer, was managing the Nerf pistol loading and shooting, and said they were pleased to be asked to be a part of the event.

“This is a slow time for us before the holidays start,” she said. “The summer is when we are hit the hardest because the kids are at home and not eating at school. This drive is excellent and will get us into the holiday season— and we’re all having fun!”