Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Updated: Emerald Garrison Jedi Academy

Next Saturday and Sunday the Emerald Garrison are returning to W5 to run two days of Jedi Academy events to help celebrate their 10th Anniversary. This from the W5 website:
"W5 welcomes back the Emerald Garrison and their hugely successful Jedi Academy. Don't miss this weekend treat for all young Padawans. Train with The Emerald Garrison in their Junior Jedi Academy. Young visitors have the opportunity to don the famous brown robe, pick up a lightsaber and learn a few Jedi skills from an Emerald Garrison Jedi Master!"
Times are as follows and places are allocated on first come first served basis:

Saturday 9 April: 10.30, 11.15, 12, 12.45, 2.30, 3.15, 4 & 4.45
Sunday 10 April: 12.30, 1.15, 2.30, 3.15, 4 & 4.45

Come on down any time over the weekend to check out the garrison and maybe even see me there as this will be my second crewing experience with the guys.


First of all, I can't take credit for these images, turns out there are several very talented photographers in the Emerald Garrison so I've just stolen their pictures as I only had my camera phone with me. I'm going to attempt here to do a post event report and while I don't know how it compares to past Jedi Academy events I had an absolute blast in W5 this past weekend.

So the Jedi Academy event was this past weekend as part of a series of weekend events put on by W5, an interactive science museum for kids here in Belfast, to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

The impression I got from what I was able to glimpse of the actual sessions was that they seemed to last thirty to forty minutes and were held every forty-five minutes on both Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon. Approximately twenty kids at a time are met by three Jedi instructors. The kids are given cloaks and lightsabers and introduced to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (who else when you have a Jedi training academy in Belfast?). Master Jinn teaches the kids some basic moves with the sabers in a set routine.

Once the kids have learnt their moves Darth Maul appears to challenge the Jedi. The kids all line up and Darth plays out a short battle that uses the routine taught to them by Qui-Gon. At the end everyone gets a certificate saying the Force is with them and they are now a Jedi Knight.

However as I say I only glimpsed a small part of this as I spent the two days crewing for the Storm Troopers out and about W5 and the Odyssey Pavilion that houses the museum.

Hanging out with these guys was one of the most fun weekends I've had in a long time. I was surprised by how surreal it wasn't to walk around with Storm Troopers, it's something I also felt to some extent when attending Invasion Belfast II and III, and I think it's down to the vast amounts of Star Wars I've consumed in the last decade. It just feels right to see Star Wars characters walking about, I think to us major fans, the TK helmet is just like a familiar face.

This is turning into one of my longest blog posts and part of the problem is I'm struggling with how best to describe what we got up to for the two days. The experience was very different from being a 'civilian' at Invasions. Back at those events I'd toured around, seen all the characters but never really spoken at length with any of the Garrison members and what is difficult about this write up is how to explain the kind of 'you had to be there' humour that ensues when you're walking about a pavilion like the Odyssey on one of the hottest days of the year so far with a Sand Trooper, a Scout Trooper and a Snow Trooper.

Last thing I want to mention is the end of Saturday. There was one more session to go but no kids signed up that late in the day, so all us troopers and crew dressed in the little kid cloaks with the little kid sabers and went through a mock version of the academy and you can see our 'extra special' class photo below.

P.S. I got my Emerald Garrison member number after this weekend, I am EG-2507 and I've signed up for crew at Invasion Dublin over the Easter break so watch my twitter feed that weekend for updates and photos any time I get near wifi.

Now all that's left me for to do is decide on a first costume. Suggestions in comments!

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