May the 4th be with you


Leah Mellinger

Senior Leah Mellinger raises light sabers with Juniors Kade Johnson, Lilliana Liotti, Angelina Aikens, and Jordan GraySmith at Disney’s HollyWood Studios in Orlando, Florida. Eagle Photo by: Leah Mellinger

Keira Sweeney, Staff Writer

On May 4, 2011, in Toronto, Canada, the first official Star Wars Day celebration was held. There was a game show, a costume contest, and of course, a viewing party. Though this was the first time Star Wars Day had been officially celebrated, the world has felt the impact of the Star Wars franchise since the release of A New Hope in 1977. 

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, never expected his work to be a hit. In fact, most of the team working on A New Hope shared this opinion, including the board at 20th Century Fox. They were shocked to find out that their movie had made $1.5 million in theaters from the limited release alone. It then went on to make more than $775 million worldwide. 

The Star Wars franchise can be credited with many things. The movies brought about a new wave of practical effects and CGI. Star Wars also created the format for the modern movie trilogy and Hollywood blockbusters, but the biggest impact of this decades-long work has been on its generations of fans. 

Erica Hershberger, an English teacher, has been a Star Wars fan since her early childhood. She used to watch the movies with her dad whenever they had time. 

“We knew we had something in common. For 2 to 6 hours we’d just watch Star Wars on VHS.”

When A New Hope came to theaters again, they went to see it together too.

“We went to see the re-release in theaters at midnight,” Hershberger said. “When the credits came on everyone jumped out of their seats and cheered. For a few hours, we were like ride or die, in it together.” 

Watching Star Wars as a family is a common practice. Nearly three generations have been raised on Star Wars media. 

Richard Talbott IV, a financial literacy teacher, also grew up watching Star Wars.

“I remember watching it for the first time when I was 4 or 5, my family rented a VCR.”

Talbott forced his son, Richard (Ricky) Talbott V, to watch the movies as well.

“When my dad turned it on I thought ‘oh this is probably going to be alright’,” Ricky said, “I’m 3 years old, the only thing I’m focusing on is Thomas the Tank Engine, and then I’m watching people fighting in a hallway in space, it’s amazing.” 

The movies are not the only thing that draws people to the franchise. The many planets and aesthetics of Star Wars are just as influential, inspiring everything from fan builds to creative artworks.
“I’m not usually a fantasy person but for some reason, they resonated with me and I’ve been a Star Wars nerd my whole life,” Richard said. 

Four and a half decades of content has allowed the series to explore several worlds and cultures, each serving its own place in the narrative. The large pool of content offers stories of all different kinds, allowing the Star Wars franchise to reach almost any audience. 

“It is far beyond age, race, culture or gender. It just is and it brings everyone together,” Hershberger said.

Beyond the wide variety of media, the global fan base brings a sense of community like few other series in the world. 

“It’s crazy the amount of inclusion they have in lore and in the community,” Ricky said. “You can be anyone and like Star Wars. You can be gay, you can be trans, you can be nonbinary, you can be straight and everyone’s like ‘You like Star Wars? So do I.’”

Thousands of fans gather every year to celebrate Star Wars Day and other fan holidays like Revenge of the 5th, which is dedicated to all of the Star Wars villains. People who have never met before, from different cultures and beliefs, come together with a shared interest.

“It’s like an instant connection,” Hershberger said. 

To hundreds of fans around the world, Star Wars goes beyond the stories told on screen. From family movie night to a lifelong hobby, however, you choose to celebrate, May the 4th be with you.