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Thousands of fans descend on downtown Joliet for 7th annual Star Wars Day

The force was with residents of Joliet and surrounding communities who were in downtown Joliet Saturday to celebrate Star Wars Day.

Highlights at the seventh annual event, which is based on the popular science fiction franchise, included a parade of costumed characters, professional light saber demonstrations and a presentation on cryogenic freezing.

New to this year’s event was Jedi Training, as well as a live-stream broadcast by WGN’s Jimmie Mack that featured a Star Wars-themed talk radio program and streaming for the Rebel Force Network.

Denise Zielinski, community engagement officer at the Joliet Public Library, said the event aims to engage all those in attendance and inform them on what downtown Joliet can offer.

“It’s a way to get everybody interested in what’s going at the library, what’s going on at the museum and literacy,” she said.

The Star Wars-themed parade plays a great part in drawing as many people as it does year after year, according to Zielinski

“The parade is the part that, I think, everybody just really enjoys because they get to see all of the characters from all of the pictures and from all of the movies, and it’s a fun time when you see 200 characters just walking by,” she added.

Spectators watched as almost 150-200 costumed characters took center stage in the parade at this year’s Star Wars Day. Despite the rain, Star Wars Day drew in many fans across the area.

Marc Brewe, of Manhattan, was in attendance for the festivities. Saturday was the fourth time he and his family participated in Star Wars Day.

“It’s just a great family event for them and for us, too, to see the different characters especially as Star Wars has evolved over the past few years with the newer characters,” he said. “It seems to get better every year.”

He said the kids really enjoy themselves whenever they come out to the event, adding how his family tends to come away with a lot of pictures each year.

Pam Waldrom, of Chicago, was one of many people showing her support for the popular franchise.

“I think, for me, because I was a child when [Star Wars] first came out it brings me back to being a child again,” she said. “It’s a fun franchise and sharing it with my kids is just something we do as a family.”

Close to 10,000 people took part in last year’s Star Wars Day, according to Zielinski.

“We just want to introduce people who may not have thought of us as a fun place for Star Wars Day; to realize that the library is more than just books,” she added. “We’re more than just a place that has story time. We have lots of other things going on.”

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