The One with the Force
Inspired by the fact I just went to see Episode I in 3D (and it was still awful, but that's maybe beside the point) and me feeling super sentimental, I thought I might do a Star Wars convention photo retrospective, for your amusement and my public humiliation. I'm sort of amazed by some of these--you can really tell how much time has passed based on how much my younger brother has grown. Fifteen years of going to Star Wars conventions people. FIFTEEN.
1997: Phoenix, AZ
My first Star Wars convention was when I was ten, and was held in Phoenix. Many of the minor actors from the original trilogy came and did signings and talks. There was a costume contest and a diorama contest, both of which I, as the coolest ten-year-old on planet Earth, totally entered. You'll notice I had a theme going too--I went as speeder bike Endor Leia in the costume contest, and then did a diorama version of the same scene. (Check out my sweet shirt, too. I was hot shit!) Daniel is seven here--he's posing with Peter Mayhew, the actor who plays Chewie.
1999: Celebration I--Denver, CO
This was the first official Celebration convention, which took place in Colorado at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in April. Which, yeah. Not exactly a huge joint even though supposedly 20,000 people showed up. It was held to celebrate the release of Episode I and, hate to say it, pretty poorly managed. It poured the entire time we were there, which was fine if you went into the hall to hear the speakers, but blew if you were a vendor. Most were outside in tents, slowly discovering their merchandise was damaged and/or sinking into the mud. I think I've kinda blocked this one from my memory for the most part--I do remember that Daniel (now nine to my twelve) went up during a Q&A session with Rick McCallum and asked what planet Darth Maul was from (and what species alien he was) and poor Rick had no idea. Also, I was in my butterfly clip phase, apparently.
2002: Celebration II--Indianapolis, IN
This convention ended up being the model that all the others followed. It was held in a HUGE indoors convention center, with a massive exhibit floor (this is where all of the toy companies, video game companies, merchandise companies, etc. all had booths) and a constant stream of stars autographing and speaking on panels. Thank God they moved it, too. Supposedly they were only expecting 20,000 people again and a good 75,000 showed up. The organizers decided to use the 501st (an organization of people who made and owned their own Imperial gear) as security, so they had stormtroopers manning the doors as volunteers. I remember really liking this one because they actually showed us a good amount of footage from Episode II which, at the time, looked so awesome. I also... maybe... um... dressed up again, and I wish I could say I'm not super embarrassed by this, but I was fourteen and I really should have known better about that hair piece. I also volunteered, which explains that yellow shirt.
2005: Celebration III--Indianapolis, IN
This is the convention that got SUPER corporate and classy, just in time for Episode III to come out. Even the decorations improved, and the organization running it finally got their act together and managed the crowds well. A good number of the big stars from the movie came and did panels, and mass chaos ensued when the rumor got out that Hayden Christensen was walking around the exhibit floor in a stormtrooper costume. What I remember most from this one--aside from Carrie Fisher being super loopy during her autographing session--was standing outside in the FREEZING wind to wait to get into the convention store to buy the convention exclusives. (See: Daniel and I looking super miserable below.) We have a lot more pictures from this conference because we finally switched to digital cameras.
2007: Celebration IV--Los Angeles, CA
This one was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Episode IV, but, have to say--this convention was not my favorite. The LA convention center was an awful location and there wasn't much to do outside of the exhibit floor. They also ended up rehashing a lot of the banners and rooms from CII and CIII--it was definitely more for the collectors and people coming off the street. If you're keeping track, I'm twenty in these pictures.
2010: Celebration V--Orlando, FL
Recent college-grad off to yet another convention, this time Mom came with us (what a saint)! I actually had a great time, even though this convention was also very focused on the animated series, video games, and the buying/selling/trading happening on the exhibit floor. You probably guessed it, but this was the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, but it was also notable for three other events: the interview Jon Stewart did with George Lucas, Mark Hamill coming to his first fan convention, and Last Tour to Endor. They had a special park night at Disney World where they let us go through and ride the old version of the Star Tours ride for the last time before they shut it down the next day. There was also this crazy fireworks show set to all of the famous songs from the Star Wars score.
2012: Celebration VI--Orlando, FL
This summer. No clue why it's not in 2013 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, but I'm not going to question it...