Op/Ed: STAR WARS CELEBRATION V Was the Best Con Ever
Op/Ed: CELEBRATION V: Best Con Ever.
It's very simple, and something that took very little convincing. The people involved with Star Wars, from the creatives to the fans, are the best genre folks in the world. Likewise, Star Wars Celebration V was the best convention in the world.
What makes a good convention? Well-managed lines for panels and signings (check), friendly workers (security dressed as Jedi? check), fans that love the content (lots of smiles, and no pen-stabbing…check), fun panels, great guests, toys, games, video games, amazing costumes; check, check, check, check, check, check.
There was something in the air at Celebration V, and no, not the stereotypical "con smell." This something was a sense of joy. Never before at a convention have I encountered such a group of people that were just plain happy to be there. The fans were incredible, with wall-to-wall costumes celebrating their favorite characters. They were amazingly courteous to each other. People would stop and chat about the costume they were wearing, or the panel they were just at. Children, parents, couples, men, women; they all had something important to them in common, and it made things feel great. It is a hard thing to describe, and for frequent con-goers an unfortunately sometimes difficult thing to imagine.
The people running the show, from media relations, who made sure we got to talk to so many great people (See all our interviews and other Star Wars coverage by clicking here) to the security, which as mentioned was a mixture of irregularly friendly convention center staff and people dressed as Star Wars characters, mostly co-ordinated by the 501st Legion, an official fan group of Imperial soldiers. They were courteous, and always willing to help whether you needed directions to a panel room, had a question about a display, or even if you just wanted a picture.
The show floor was well-organized; it was probably a little big for the number of fans there, but that worked out really well; you could move, and breathe. Whether looking at amazing LEGO creations or doing some shopping or standing in line to play one of the new Star Wars video games, the place didn't feel crowded, even with swarms of people there. The queue for the main theater was a bit ridiculous for the big shows, but the panel lines other than that were perfect, even for packed rooms. The Main Event, the Jon Stewart and George Lucas interview, was even simulcast in every panel room, so if you didn't want to wait in line at 11pm the night before, you could still enjoy the interview live (and yes, every one of those rooms was packed full, leaving the showfloor all but empty for a couple hours.
And oh, those guests. Whether they've been involved with Star Wars for 30 years, like Mark Hamill and Warwick Davis or just a few, like the cast of Star Wars: The Clone Wars or the guys behind Robot Chicken to the writers and artists working on telling new stories in comic book and novel format, these folks clearly love this material just as much as the people waiting in long lines to meet them. Stopping to take pictures and chat with fans, taking hours out of their day to do media interviews, and running panels of their own was mixed in with simply attending panels, doing some shopping of their own, and enjoying the show. Looking over and seeing Seth Green sitting in the audience for the Clone Wars Season 3 panel was a cool moment, when you really realize that these guys just love this stuff.
I can describe the goodness of this show until I'm blue in the face, but it won't replace going. Celebration VI, or some other foreign Celebration show, should be just as good, and I will definitely be there. I went into the show excited, but not the world's biggest Star Wars fan. The weekend amongst those great people made my fandom increase tenfold (and my wallet decrease in size by about the same margin), and that's why Star Wars Celebration V was the best convention ever.