Celebration Orlando was a rite of passage. Mike Moriarty and I have been dreaming of it since high school. I had a lot of ideas about how amazing it would be, and the panels, reveals, costumes and energy were all greater than I could have imagined beforehand.
But the absolute greatest moment for me came at the very end.
It was day four. All the panels were behind us. The last minute items had been bought. Mike, Larry and I met at the Star Wars Show stage to watch the closing ceremony. I did so grudgingly; my back and feet were killing me, and I knew we would have to stand in a hot crowd to see even a fraction of the stage.
I’m really glad we did.
Before the closing ceremony, Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group came out. After christening the t-shirt cannon a MerrSonn projectile launcher and demanding EA put it in Battlefront II, Pablo fired off a few shirts, and after a near-fistfight with Mike, I caught one.
I beamed like a kid at Christmas through the whole closing ceremony. Afterwards, Mike, Larry and I stuck around in hopes of getting autographs from Star Wars Show hosts Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni (we did). And while we waited, Pablo appeared once again.
I told one of the stage crew that I caught one of Pablo’s shirts, and wanted to see if he’d sign it. A clamor ensued of people hurriedly shouting Pablo’s name. He turned. He looked right at me.
Having no idea what to do, I said the first thing that came into my mind.
“You shot this at my face,” I declared.
I have no memory of the actual exchange– Mike and Larry had to fill me in later– but Pablo seemed to think I wasn’t any worse for wear. He signed the shirt and patiently watched me fumble with my old phone to take a blurry photo.
I met one of my heroes. A guy whose name was in the acknowledgements of dozens of Star Wars books I read growing up. He actually saw me, actually spoke to me.
A funny realization hit me afterwards. We live in a generation where our heroes are tangible, where stars have descended low enough for us to reach. Up close they don’t have that superhuman varnish; they’re just regular people like us, and that is so satisfying to me.
If our heroes are regular people, then we can be heroes too. And that, at it’s deepest level, is what Star Wars is all about.