We’re all proud of George Lucas, the kid who grew up in small-town Modesto, attending Downey High, racing cars on Paradise Road and then flying off to make movies in Los Angeles.
And, oh, what movies he helped make – “American Graffiti,” “Star Wars” (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3), the Indiana Jones saga, “Howard the Duck.”
To honor our most famous native son, we long ago erected a statue at Five Points, placed placards around town recognizing places made famous by “American Graffiti” and, every June, we have a huge festival celebrating vintage cars, rock ’n’ roll and teenage romance.
We’ve long since enshrined “American Graffiti,” but Modesto had done little to affiliate with Lucas’ much more famous creation (hum the theme song): “Star Wars.”
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Now, at long last, the Modesto City Council has passed a proclamation to further commemorate our long-ago, but not forgotten, ties to Lucas. Thirty-seven years after it was first coined by a British newspaper, our city has proclaimed May 4th as Star Wars Day. Say it proud, say it out loud: May the Fourth Be With You.
Get it? If not, then visit www.starwars.com to learn more. Or go to starwars.wikia.com (home of fandom) to find out who was born on this day and what famous things happened that might (or might not) have influenced Lucas.
Apparently, May 4th is the perfect day for gathering with friends to watch the movies, do some cosplay (dress up), or all the other things fans do.
It’s a nice tribute. But May 4th became the official Star Wars holiday long, long ago. Los Angeles passed its proclamation honoring May 4th in 2009. In 2011, Toronto began hosting one of the first citywide celebrations with movies, cosplay, web mashups and more. Last year, Atlanta and Chicago both offered parties aimed at adult “nerds.”
Now Modesto is in on the act. A little late to the party, but better than never.
Credit Chris Murphy, who embraces the “Graffiti” celebrations as robustly as anyone alive, for pushing this proclamation. He promised to appear at the council meeting dressed as Luke Skywalker – one of the heroes of the franchise. Can’t blame him; who doesn’t want to be a hero?
But if you really want to do something heroic, something more than just greeting fellow fans with a reference to the calendar, consider joining Lucasfilm and Disney in becoming a “force for change.”
Find a good cause and make a donation. Consider it a mind trick from the original Jedi master.
Last year, Lucasfilm partnered with UNICEF for donations. This year, the official starwars.com site has selected four charities (including UNICEF) and will match fan donations to each (up to $1 million). The movie stars are in on it, promising an autographed stormtrooper helmet, tickets to a celebration in Europe and more.
If you’d rather honor Lucas’ creation by donating to something closer to his hometown, there are abundant opportunities – United Way, the Stanislaus Community Foundation, Catholic Charities, Center for Human Services; there’s no shortage of worthy groups.
It will be fun to greet everyone with “May the Force/fourth be with you” today, but even better to be a force for good.