Those who get fired up over lightsabers, tremble when Darth Vader confronts enemies on the silver screen or like to quote Yoda can travel to a festival in a park not so far, far away next week.
The sights and sounds of the popular “Star Wars” movies will take over Dr. A.J. Chandler Park East at the Chandler Symphony FanFest from 2 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 9. The aliens, Jedi and intergalactic fun will merge at the park on South Arizona Avenue, between Boston and Buffalo streets.
The Chandler Symphony Orchestra will perform music composed by John Williams for the “Star Wars” movies starting about 6:30 p.m. at the free event. People also can watch a “SparWars” tournament.
The Engineers of the 105th Squad, a diverse group of artists and fans, will participate in the FanFest. Adults can channel their favorite intergalactic characters in the blowout cosplay competition, the Craftsmanship Award Show, and children also can compete in a different cosplay costume contest.
Budding Jedi can watch more than 40 engineers at Orbital ATK’s “Passport to Space” launch rockets and explore other science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) adventures at the Chandler gathering.
“I have been attending the San Diego Comic-Con with my family since 2011, and a couple years ago we were fortunately able to attend the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ concert in Marina Park,” Chandler City Councilmember René Lopez said.
“It is one thing to hear the music of your favorite movie in a theater, but hearing it live in a huge crowd, the energy was extreme and the feelings are indescribable.”
Lopez, part of the orchestra’s 25th anniversary planning committee, said the Chandler Symphony Orchestra mentioned almost two years ago it wanted to “do something big and special” for its 25th anniversary season.
He came up with the idea to combine the orchestra’s performance with a “Star Wars” theme. The orchestra is in its 25th season after forming in 1993.
“They wanted to get out there and get a new generation involved,” he said. “I’m very big into pop culture. Everybody kind of liked it. It really blew up. We believe it will be a success.”
Pam Hahn, executive director of the Chandler Symphony Orchestra, and also a harpist with the group, is excited about FanFest.
“It’s been like nothing we’ve ever done before with the orchestra,” Hahn said. “It’s really going to be fun. Some of it is hard to play. It’s contemporary and a lot of the rhythms are contemporary so it’s a little different than the usual classical that we play.”
She said about 55 of the orchestra’s roughly 80 members are expected to play in the FanFest concert because the stage is small. The orchestra is made up of volunteers, including people in diverse careers from teachers to lawyers, as well as retirees.
Hahn, who remembers seeing the first “Star Wars” movie in a theater, is “really fond” of the “Cantina Theme.”
Lopez is a huge “Star Wars” buff and said his favorite character from the movies is Boba Fett because of “his armor and the way his character is personified.” He said “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens” in 2015 was “really well done” and he likes all the movies for different reasons.
“The original is always really good,” Lopez said. “I always liked the storyline, the progression in seeing the art of the characters coming into their full realization.”
The Chandler Public Library will also get into the “Star Wars” theme at FanFest.
At its “Spaceport” area, a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) tent will feature BB-8, an app-enabled Droid “Star Wars” figure from Sphero that people can move through a maze with an iPad or cell phone set up there.
Visitors can also check out 3D printers, listen to space-themed stories being read, pose for pictures with a space-type backdrop and create light sabers out of popsicle sticks, among other activities in the library’s tents, said Mary Sagar, assistant library manager for the Chandler Public Library.
“We do a lot of this at the library all of the time anyway,” Sagar said. “Everything about this program is a great opportunity to get kids excited about STEAM subjects.”
People can also build an alien universe with 50,000 LEGO pieces Play-Well TEKnologies will bring to FanFest. Children can explore the Saber Toonz Kids play area.