April 19th, 2019

pixie's stina

Star Wars Celebration Chicago, Day One

Obviously, I'm a Star Wars fan. I've been a Star Wars fan ever since I can remember, probably starting in 1979 or 1980, when my family first got a VCR. It was the first movie we rented, and we rented it so often that it was more cost effective to go ahead and buy it. Jose and I knew every single word of dialogue, and we used to play Star Wars all the time. I remember going to the theater for every release since 1980. It's always been important to me.

And fortunately, I met and married someone who loves Star Wars as much as I do.

I can't remember the first time I heard about Celebration. It was quite some time ago, but it wasn't until maybe 2015 or so that I started paying attention enough to think I'd try to go. Last time around, Graham and I talked about it, but we never got our act together, so we watched it on the livestream vowing that one day we would go.

But anyhow, it's been a goal since 2017. We didn't buy tickets when they went on sale last summer. With years of burn events in our past, we knew that the resale market would probably be robust. But we didn't actually pull the trigger until late March, when Graham found a ridiculously low fare to Chicago for $150 each roundtrip.

So we found tickets (without a markup) and our outstandingly awesome friend Jason offered us a place to stay in his house in Wicker Park. And on Thursday, at an absurdly early hour of the morning, we were on our way.

We essentially just dropped off our stuff after we landed (30 minutes early!), grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed straight to the convention center via the train. I was wearing my droid leggings, my droid satin jacket, my "may the force be with you" tee shirt, and my Rey boots. Graham was wearing his "Death Star Communications" soccer jersey. We looked the part. As would become a custom, we ran into another Celebration attendee on the train (recognized by her Rey boots), and we chatted on the way there. Doors were to open at 1:00, and I think we arrived at about 12:30, so our wait wasn't very long at all. We continued to chat with our new friend while waiting, and as soon as the doors opened, there was a rush.

I had an agenda. I'd deliberately packed with the idea of buying a jacket at Her Universe that had been announced right before the convention started.  I knew on the map where the booth was, so I made a beeline for it. At 1:15, I found the booth, but it took me another five minutes to find the end of the line. I got in it, and I told Graham to explore while I waited.

This was an awesome strategy, as it gave us both an opportunity to take things in at our own pace. I let the convention assemble around me as the line moved slowly ahead. After taking a hard pass on the 8 hour wait on the Celebration Store, Graham went out to get a lay of the land, coming back every ten to 15 minutes to check in on me and tell me what he saw. The line I was standing in was on a main thoroughfare, so I got tons of people watching in, and I chatted with those around me too.

I think it took an hour to get to the front, but it was totally worth it. I got the jacket I wanted, and it was even more awesome than I thought it would be. I also got a dress that I had my eye on. Graham got a tee shirt.

And then we were free to walk around. We didn't know it, but it was a lot less crowded than most of the other days, and not all of the booths were set up yet. But we got a good sense of things. We admired the mural that had been painted for the event. We checked out the art cars and ships and model areas that had been set up. We wandered over to the tattoo area to check out the artists. And as luck would have it, we ran into Cori on the convention floor on the first day. We sort of assumed that she would be so busy we'd never see her. But we got to hang out for a half second before she had to move on.

One of the last minute purchases I made before we left was a pack of a dozen inflatable light sabers to give to kids. Next time we'll bring ten times that amount, because it was so much fun giving them out. We also bought 200 stickers on Amazon to give out. The kids really loved those too.

Graham and I checked out the diorama, which has become a Celebration tradition. A massive model of an iconic scene from Star Wars is built by the community for the duration of the event. This time around, it was the Battle of Scarif from Rogue One.

We left a little early, tired as hell from the travel and stimulation, but really excited about what we saw. Pizza from around the corner, and we were in bed fast asleep by ten.

pixie's stina

Star Wars Celebration, Day Two

Having slept nine hours, Graham and I got up fairly early on Friday morning, totally invigorated. We checked the Facebook group for Celebration, and there were already fans in line for the Episode IX panel and had been there for hours. Apparently the staff was handing out Happy Meals to them.

Traditionally, the big panels have been almost impossible to get into without putting in serious work. People would literally camp out for days to get into specific panels. Fourteen to 24 hour waits were not unheard of. Graham and I kind of assumed we'd never actually be able to get into one because we're not really the types to be willing to stand in those sorts of lines.

But for a variety of reasons, that was not going to be possible this year. The city of Chicago would not permit lines longer than four hours or overnight camping. The weather was not going to cooperate. The larger panels were in a separate arena across the street from the main convention hall.

So the convention implemented a lottery system, where attendees could, through their badges, select the panels they wanted to attend. The lottery system also worked for some of the toy exclusives (Funko, Hasbro and Lego, I think). We threw our lots in for the Episode IX, the Mandolorian, and the Phantom Menace Anniversary panels. (There was another panel for Galaxy's Edge, the new theme park, but we figured we'd just go one day instead.) The arena held about 7000 people, and there were two overflow rooms in the convention center that probably accommodated another 3000. I think that per day there were about 35,000 people at the convention. The odds were not necessarily great, but they weren't terrible either. And on Tuesday morning, we found out that we had gotten into both the Episode IX panel and the Phantom Menace panel. We were overjoyed.

So I got dressed in my Empire poster dress with Han Solo leggings, tall black boots and a long sleeveless vest/hoodie, and Graham wore his Obi-Wan sweater, and we were in line at the arena by about 8:45ish. The line was moving, but it still took us about ten minutes to get through. Everyone in line got a black beenie with just the numerals IX on it. Since it was a little chilly, it was a very welcome piece of swag. We could have waited for a Happy Meal, but it was cold, and we were too excited to go in to wait for any longer.

We got into the building, and we found our section and then some seats by about 9:30. The arena was buzzing, but it wasn't yet packed. I got us some breakfast at one of the concessions (soft pretzels), and we took in the crowd and the ambiance.

The warm up team was having fun with the crowd, and at one point, they pulled out four or five girls wearing stormtrooper attire and brought them on stage. Then, he brought another woman on stage and introduced the girls to Samantha Alleyne, who was the very first female stormtrooper in The Force Awakens and has been a stormtrooper in the subsequent four movies that they've made, including this one. She told a story of a young fan coming to her once to thank her, because her brother and his friend told her she couldn't be a stormtrooper because she was a girl. The little girl pointed out that Samantha was a girl and she was a stormtrooper and the boys had to concede the point. One day ALL the boys will concede the point.

Finally, with the arena full, and the energy practically visible, the lights dimmed and out came Stephen Colbert! What a welcome surprise! I never thought I'd ever been chanting "Stephen! Stephen! Stephen!" much less in this context, but here I was, chanting along. He was a perfect host for this event, with a very well documented geek cred and passionate about the subject matter.

JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy were the first guests brought on stage. Colbert did what he could to elicit some sort of idea about what the movie would entail. They remained pretty cagy, but they did talk a little about the kismet of finding footage from the Last Jedi with Carrie Fisher that worked organically into the storyline. They said CGI and recasting was entirely off the table, but working with the footage they had was really awesome. They also talked about, and this would come up later on the Mandolorian panel, the importance of using practical effects and real locations as much as possible to give a sense of grounding to the movie.

Next, Anthony Daniels and R2D2 came on stage, and I legitimately started crying when I saw R2. 3P0 has been in every single movie, and Daniels can still fit in the costume. They flashed an image of him with his costume pieces from three separate trilogies, and it was remarkable of the changes and similarities. Daniels was charming and gracious

Billy Dee Williams was next up. The crowd went wild. I think his casting had been confirmed before, but this was undeniable. Abrams and Kennedy talked about how in awe they were of him when he came back to the set, and he told Stephen Colbert that Lando had never left him after all of these years.

The rest of the cast came on stage next, to much fanfare. There’s a new character, named Janna, played by newcomer Naomi Ackie. She was very silent about the part, but they did flash an image of her character on the screen. I took a photo and immediately posted it on to social media. She talked about getting the role and having to be silent about it.

The cast was clearly pretty close, and Colbert talked to them individually and as a group. They’d often defer to Abrams and Kennedy if there were any questions that got too close to the plot, and images kept flashing of stills from the movie. I captured as many as I could with my camera.

The very best part of the cast interviews was when Stephen turned to Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose. Last year, she had to remove herself from social media due to fan bullying after The Last Jedi. But when Stephen Colbert mentioned her name, the crowd went insane and she got a standing ovation that took a few minutes to calm down. And then she started misting up, so we started misting up and cheering all over again. It took awhile for everyone to compose themselves.

Then, we got a treat of a new droid being introduced for the very first time! He’s even smaller than BB8, and terribly adorable. Named D-O, he sort of had a look of the Pixar lamp in droid form. JJ Abrams reminded us that we all met BB8 at Celebration right before The Force Awakens came out, and he also said that like with BB8, Celebration was the deadline that the builders had to finish the prototype.

Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived, and JJ Abrams announced the teaser trailer. You could have heard a pin drop in that arena. 14,000 eyes were glued to the screen. I grabbed Graham’s hand. We gripped tight during that opening sequence with the waiting and centering and voiceover and sand and speed and tie fighter and calm and the light saber and the run. And then when Rey did the flip, we cheered like mad people. The rest of the trailer, with Leia’s theme playing and all of the new information to absorb was almost a blur. I don’t think any of us blinked, though we cheered when we saw Lando, and we sniffed when we saw Leia. And then Luke spoke again, and then that laugh. And then the name was revealed. And everyone just went insane.

The lights came back on, and Ian McDiarmid was standing on stage. It took a minute for the crowd to compose itself with the shock and excitement of the trailer, and then with McDiarmid on stage. He was just smirking. And then he turned on the Emperor, and said, “Roll it again.” And the lights dimmed and the crowd went insane again, and we went through it all over again, with just a little more information than we had before.

It was an emotionally exhausting hour that was just amazing to be part of. The crowd was still buzzing when we were leaving to get out of the arena and across the street to the convention center. We were absorbing and talking about what it all meant and just totally excited about what we had just seen.

After getting to the convention center, I noticed that the line to get into the official store was a fraction of what it had been yesterday. I had heard that the system crashed at some point yesterday and that was a big factor in the massive line then. I figured what the hell, and got in. Graham had a panel he wanted to see around the same time, and we figured we’d be through our respective tasks about the same time. Once Graham left, I called Jose to tell him to watch the trailer, as it was already online. I watched it a few more times.

My estimation of the line was not great, and I ended up in it for about two hours. I made friends along the way, but it probably wasn’t my best move in terms of time management. Finally, I got into the store (right as Graham was getting out of the panel), and found some tee shirts and other items I wanted, and texted Graham that I’d soon be out. The system crashed again, and the line I thought would be similar to a Saturday checking out at Trader Joe’s took another 25 minutes.

When we were reunited, Graham told me about the panel (on military stuff) and took me down to this awesome room he found full of fan-made droids. There were dozens of them, and most were functional to some degree or another. Everyone in the room had a blast taking pictures with the droids, including me. I have a massive love for R2, and there were dozens of variations of his theme.

We went back to the main room, hearing too late that most of the cast had gone over to the stage there for more informal interviews on the Star Wars Show stage. But there was so much more than there had been the day before, so we spent some time exploring, getting photographs, talking to people, including this awesome guy from Toronto who Graham is now talking with about maybe developing a Jedi Yoga class with. We probably spent close to a half-hour talking with him.

Exhausted and invigorated, we headed back to Wicker Park at around seven, and Graham found a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. Wicker Park is active and vibrant and has the nicest Walgreens the world has ever seen. (Seriously, it’s in an old bank building and it’s three floors of amazing.) We came home and hit the hay ready for the next day.

pixie's stina

Star Wars Celebration, Day Three

The big panel on Saturday was for the new theme park in the Disney parks. For whatever reason, Graham and I were sort of more interested in learning about that if and when we go to the park than at Celebration. So we took a little more time getting organized on Saturday morning. Graham got some chai and coffee at a nearby donut shop, and we took some time getting dressed.

Today was our couple cosplay day. We’d actually been planning this costume for a few months when I was hit with inspiration reading something or another. We were Generation-X-Wing fighter pilots. And we totally went there. We bought orange jumpsuits and then altered them to fit a 90s grunge aesthetic. Graham cut off the sleeves and the pant legs to the knees. I cut my shorts much shorter and hemmed them. I had a white tank top made with the rebel logo and the words “Rebel Grrrl” written on it. I found a motorcycle helmet and decaled it. Graham chose a skater helmet instead. I made flight straps out of grey webbing. For mine, I put grommets every few inches. Graham put hooks on his. I found a pair of old Doc Martens on ebay with plaid lining. Graham found his combat boots. I threw on orange tights and then black fishnets over them. Graham tied a flannel around his waist. I kept the top of my jumpsuit hanging behind my back. I went thick with eyeliner and a dark red lipstick. Graham wore an orange stocking cap with the rebel logo. We looked awesome. The only thing missing was the awesome vintage skateboard we had found, but Graham and I decided that it was more a pain in the ass to bring with us. It’ll come to Comicpalooza.

And of course, it happened to be the day we spent the most time apart.

When we got to Celebration, Graham got in a line for something at the Amazon booth, and I went over to the tattoo pavilion to check on an artist’s availability that I had seen the first day. I’d more or less decided to get a tattoo while at Celebration on Friday. I knew I wanted the Starbird Rebel logo from Rebels in a stylized version. I finally settled on my ribcage. And I had talked to an artist on Thursday that seemed to meet my needs and had a portfolio that I liked.

When I got there, though, I noticed that she was in the middle of a pretty big project that would take some time before she could talk to me, so I looked around a little more. And I found this awesome Starbird that looked even better than the one the artist had I had been talking to had made. The artist was taking walk-ups, and the project he was working on just then was very small. Within 30 minutes, I was on a table getting my tattoo on my left ribcage by a guy wearing a Hutt Slayer (fka Slave Leia) cosplay. It was pretty awesome. The tattoo has watercolor effect in pink and purple, and I am so very much in love with it.

Graham met up with me having had some adventures of his own while I was being tattooed (I made sure to tell him about it via text as it was happening). And we made our way over to the Rebels panel. Due to some awesome pre-planning on our part, we had reserved seats ahead of time, and we were able to pretty much waltz into the panel without having to wait in line at all. The panel was packed, and I was pretty happy about how close we were.

Given I had just gotten a tattoo from the show, I am pretty invested in Rebels. It was a pretty awesome panel because it was the first time I got to see David Filoni, who I think is one of the best Star Wars producers and storytellers out there. Since Rebels is complete, they were able to cover quite a bit territory about the show without giving anything away. The cast had great anecdotes, and clearly enjoyed working together. Filoni is an evil genius who enjoys torturing everyone, including his cast. He keeps EVERYTHING close to the chest and the whole Celebration, everyone was making fun of his “trust tree” where no one is told anything. This panel was a love-fest, and it was clear that Rebels is a beloved, beloved part of the canon now. When the panel was over, we all got a Rebels poster based off of the painting that Sabine made at the end of the series.

Graham actually left the panel a little early to go across the street for the Jedi Fallen Order game preview. He said it was pretty amazing. I went over to the vendors to get a poster tube after the Rebels panel was over, and I was able to see things like the Running of the Hoods  and absorb more of the convention. Around the time that Graham’s panel was getting out, I wandered towards the main entry to wait for him. He got delayed due to the line for the poster/x-box time/pin set swag after the panel, so I got us some hotdogs and spent 20 minutes being charmed to death by an 11 month old fan from the Czech Republic who was delighted to play with the inflatable light saber I gave her. Graham spent his time in line giving stickers to everyone there.

We reunited for a bit, taking more pictures in, wandering around some more. The final panel of the mural was revealed today, so we went to admire it.

Graham and I were parted again pretty quickly. I went to the Sisters of the Force panel that put several of the women of the Star Wars family on stage together, while Graham went to a writing workshop. We both wanted to go to both, but such is the fate of conventions.

The Sisters of the Force panel was wonderful. I was on the floor of the arena, and the place was pretty full. The panelists were just lovely people with wonderful stories. There were tears and laughter and great stories. Having been a part of this fandom for such a long time, it is such a joy to have so many women involved now. Once upon a time, there was just one. And while she’s a bad-ass and my hero and the best damned princess in this or any other galaxy, she was the only one. There are so many more now, so very many more. And they are beloved. There were so many Ahsokas. So many Sabines. Heras. Holdos. Reys. Ventresses. Padmes. It’s just wonderful, and sometimes we need a love fest like this.

Graham and I reunited shortly after the panel. We made a final sweep through the convention floor, making sure to get a photo or two by the X-Wing, and then we made our way back toward Wicker Park. Our friend Sam was having a birthday party that night, and we wanted to get home and get ready for it. We met up with Jason, our host, and he graciously gave us a lift to the party. It was awesome because we got to chat quite a bit with him on the way there and back.

It was starting to get cold that night, so our time outside by the fire at the party was a little more curtailed than it would have been had the weather been a little kinder. We got home soon before it started snowing.

pixie's stina

Star Wars Celebration, Day Four

On Sunday, I woke with a gasp. I looked at Graham, smiled, and said, “We’ve been married seven years today!” He grinned and kissed me. I kissed him back.It was a perfect anniversary.

He went and got us coffee while I lingered in bed for a moment or two. He came back with chai and the news that it was snowing!

I thought about my wardrobe and stayed in bed an extra few minutes.

Today, I was gender-bending Lando. I have this awesome wrap top cape thing from Elhoffer Designs (though the top appears no longer to be on their website). And I wore black leggings with my tall black boots. I threw a jewel on my face and made my makeup as femme as I could, because I figured a Lady Lando would be dolled up as much as possible. Under my cape, I wore a cami, and for the purposes of travel to and from, I decided to wear a long sleeved shirt under the cape that I’d take off once I got to the convention center.

Graham was debuting his own cosplay. He’s always been a fan of the guys on the side, but fighting the good fight. When he was a kid he loved the rank and file rebel troopers on the Tantive IV, the guys in the trenches on Hoth, the scouting group on Endor (now known to include Rex!!). His current favorite Star Wars movie is Rogue One, and he sort of fell in love with the anarchist Partisans that follow Saw Guerra and put pillowcases over blind Force sensitive captives, just in case. So he developed a costume to emulate the look and feel of one of the Partisans without specifying which one in particular. He found an awesome sweater thing on Amazon, an ammo pouch also on Amazon, his tall black boots, some black yoga pants, some goggles from Burning Man, and some greasepaint. At the convention a few days before, we found this awesome mask that completed the look.

So my Lady Lando was accompanied by essentially the Rebel version of Antifa. I fell in love with him all over again and would have married him right on the spot had we not done so seven years previously.

Citing the snow(!), we decided to Uber to the convention on Sunday rather than take the train like we had the previous days. The train itself would have been fine, but the waits at the stations would have been, er, challenging.

We rolled in at around 10:30, giving me time to go to my tattoo artist for a check on the wound and a bandage change. (These new bandages are pretty cool. Look like saran wrap, but adhesive and breathable. And eliminates the need to constantly add lotion all the time.) The tattoo looked great!

Graham secured us spots to watch the livestream of the Mandalorian panel at the Star Wars Show stage, and pretty much most of the convention stopped what we were doing in order to hang on every word. Man, I can’t wait for that show to start. David Filloni is just an outstanding showrunner, and to be paired with Jon Faverau makes me really excited. The cast seemed really into what they were doing, terribly excited to be there, especially Pedro Pascal. Filloni told a story about the random guys at ILM who were so excited that they started building props and developing shots in their garages. And there was another great story about not having enough stormtrooper armor for one particular scene at the studio, so Filloni called the 501st and got plenty of stormtroopers to show up without even knowing what it was they were doing there. Now they all can say they were in a Star Wars show. The cast said the 501st were DAMNED professional. The livestream cut out before we could see the exclusive footage. But we were pretty happy with what we got to see.

At some point in the previous day, we managed to get a feature of the app working and made a reservation to go to the Celebration Store at 12:30. I had been there two days prior, but Graham hadn’t been in and he wanted to see if there were any other items he wanted. There was a screen printing area, and while he was waiting to get a tee shirt printed, the people in the shop announced a brand new tee shirt for The Rise of Skywalker had just been released. I happened to be standing at exactly the right place, and so I was the very first person to get one. Graham and I swapped places in line so he could get one too. Apparently, they’d only printed 1300, and they were out of them pretty quickly.

I left Graham at the shop to wait for his shirt to print to try to make it into a panel, but it was full by the time I got there, and I took a little time coming back. Once we were reunited, we wandered to the far corner of the convention floor to check out all of the fan groups. There are so many, with so many different interests. I talked to one of the Mandolorian Mercs about what it takes to join in. We had pictures taken with a variety of backdrops the groups had brought it. We gave stickers to any kids we saw. I found another woman wearing the same top I was.

And then we realized we were close to the time to get to the Clone Wars panel. We didn’t look at the location, and almost went to the wrong place. The panel was across the street (through what I am told was not a blizzard but entailed a lot of snow and wind so I’m not entirely clear on the difference) in the big basketball arena. We sat near the press area. And the place was almost full. There were so many people excited about the return of the Clone Wars. For a lot of fans, it was their gateway into Star Wars. There was sooooo much costuming from that part of the franchise. Ahsoka was EVERYWHERE. The cast was just overjoyed to have another chance to be on the show, and it was clear that they all love working together. Filloni was as cagy as ever, but he did show us some amazing clips and gave us some of the development sketches from the show. We were buzzing with excitement to see how everything would wrap up, knowing that this was an amazing gift to get. How often is a tv show revived in order to properly wrap it up? We were given a poster of a still from the teaser trailer, and while standing in line, I swapped one of our posters for someone’s excess Mandolorian poster. Excellent trade.

Back at the main floor, having survived going through the blizzard again, we wandered some more, taking everything in. Every now and then we'd see the snow outside, and it added a little more magic to the event. Something different, something mysterious. The Hoth cosplayers were overjoyed.

Finally, we went to our last panel of the day. We misread the description and probably would have walked out had it not been a very public departure. The panel was about COLLECTING original props and costumes, not about displaying and talking about original props and costumes. There was an interesting story about someone having an original Stormtrooper helmet, but otherwise, we probably could have filled our time better

Afterwards, we Ubered home. We had plans to eat at a restaurant near the apartment, but it was closed. So we went to the restaurant on the other side of our apartment. And we had an excellent anniversary.

pixie's stina

Star Wars Celebration, Day Five

We woke up on Monday morning a little sad, knowing it was the last day. And with purpose. We had to fit everything we’d acquired over the last four days into our bags. Fortunately, we’d brought a half-empty suitcase, and we’d flown Southwest, so checking bags would not be a problem later. Over the course of the last few days, most of our purchases were clothes. Several tee shirts, my new jacket, my new dress, Graham’s new mask, some patches, a stuffed loth wolf, and a lot of posters. But we got everything to fit without too much of a problem, and we were ready for our last day of Celebration.

I got dressed in my new jacket, an Ahsoka tee shirt I bought at the Celebration store earlier in the week, and the Ahsoka leggings I adore from Her Universe . I also threw on a tiara because dammit, these are all Disney princesses now. And my Docs, because they’re damned comfortable.

Graham wore his Sithlords tee shirt that he got from a company here in Houston during the Star Wars Art Show last year with jeans.

Our flight wasn’t until late, but we knew we were going to have to come back to Wicker Park for our stuff, so we were on an abbreviated schedule.

We got to the arena at about 10:00 for the Phantom Menace panel. Graham and I are not the biggest fans of the Phantom Menace, but we got in through the lottery, and we figured it’d be interesting. The panel was split into three parts. The first part was dedicated to the technical components for the Phantom Menace, and at the time, the achievements were pretty remarkable. Tons of technology that we use all the time now was developed so they could make that movie. The four behind-the-scenes artists gave us a great view of how the movie was made and produced.

Next, the Dark side. Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park came on stage and talked about their participation in the movie. They were both charming and in light of recent revelations about both of their characters, intriguing. One thing I thought interesting is that after ROTJ, McDiarmid pestered Lucas about “maybe not dead?” and Lucas was adamant that the Emperor was dead. That was nearly 30 years go, so who knows how much that holds, but it was something interesting to bring up. I’ve never seen Park sit still for that long, but he still exuded pent up energy. One of the things I forgot to mention about the Clone Wars panel from the day before was that Filoni explained that for the Maul fights in the upcoming episodes, they put Park in a motion capture suit. I cannot WAIT to see that.

The light side was composed of Ahmed Best and Anthony Daniels. Like Tran a few days before, Best got a standing ovation and as much support from each individual person in that arena as they could muster. Best had well documented depression following the backlash against Jar-Jar, and to see him welcomed with such love was a joy. Graham and I slipped out after their introductions, in part to avoid the crowd at security when the panel let out, and in part because I wanted to go to a book signing.

I fell in love with Claudia Gray’s writing when I picked up Lost Stars a few years ago. She has just a lovely way of putting forth the galaxy with a unique voice. She’s quickly become one of the fandom’s most beloved writers, and I was upset when the official schedule came out and she was listed as only being available for 30 minutes in the middle of the Clone Wars panel. But when we got to the Del Ray booth the first day, they explained that the authors would be signing every day. I’d missed her most of the other days, so I was determined to catch her on the last day. I’d bought her new book the day before, and when I got to the line, it wasn’t that bad. Everyone was still paying attention to the Phantom Menace panel. Graham went off to find some last minute things, and I spent some lovely time chatting with the people around me. Claudia Gray was a joy and I was overjoyed to be able to tell her how much I admire her writing.

Graham and I went back over to the fan club area to say goodbye to Kareem and to trade with the various groups. We spent nearly 20 minutes chatting with the Pride Squadron, and got a few patches and buttons as everyone was trying to get rid of their swag.

Next was Graham’s turn in the book line for an autograph and chat with Alexander Freed, and while he was doing that I went to the Chewy booth to get presents for Fusilli and Celosa, who had been vacationing with their grandparents at the ranch. I also was looking for other random presents for people.

When Graham and I were reunited, we went to a vendor that I’d been watching since the first day. He had a particularly nice Ahsoka print that really called to me. And finally, with only five left of the run, I went ahead and bought it.

Our shopping done, we checked the time, and headed to a corner of the convention we’d not seen before: Rancho Obi-Wan, which is the home to a massive Star Wars collection. They brought out just a fraction of the items they have, but it was impressive nonetheless. Then, we headed back to the arena across the street for the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony was nice and full of warm and fuzzies. Warwick Davis was hosting, and it was essentially a recap of what we’d seen over the previous five days. At the end, they announced that the next Celebration would be next year in Anaheim, though the dates are not yet set.

We went back across the street for one last look through and a picture under a tie fighter, and then we headed to the train to begin our journey home. Everything fit, the airport was full of Star Wars fans, and the TSA line wasn’t too bad considering how many times we’d had to go through security in the last five days at Celebration. We settled into our seats and were home by midnight.