Star Wars Day is done for good, the Joliet Public Library announced Friday.
The popular downtown Joliet event that attracted an estimated 10,000 people from the Chicago region and beyond for has not been held the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The library, which was the main organizer of the event for 10 years, issued a news release saying the “Star Wars Day event will no longer be scheduled going forward,” a decision made after “discussion with staff, community partners and members of the 501st Legion.”
The 501st Legion brought Star Wars re-enactors to the event.
The last Star Wars Day in 2019 was the tenth year for the event and the last.
Library officials said it was becoming increasingly uncertain that Star Wars Day could be staged in 2022 and the decision was made to end it permanently while planning an alternative event with a Star Wars theme next summer.
Star Wars Day attendees crowd around Darth Vader to take pictures during the fifth year of Star Wars Day in Joliet in 2014.
A planning team made the decision because of staffing shortages, library remodeling and “changing partnerships,” library Executive Director Megan Millen said in the release.
“We have discussed it with our community partners that Star Wars Day has reached its peak and it is time to sunset the event,” Millen said. “We have taken it to the highest level it can go, and now it is time to try something new.”
Library spokeswoman Mallory Hewlett said in an interview that there were concerns that the next Star Wars Day could never be at the level of the last event. The library remodeling project now underway will continue through June, which made it difficult to open the building for the event, she said. And, it was uncertain whether library partners in staging the event, the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Rialto Square Theatre, would be able to participate in 2022.
“The future is so uncertain,” Hewlett said, adding that the 501st Legion was unsure it would be able to come out in 2022.
The challenges of staging the event also was a factor, she said.
“It is very, very hard on staff” Hewlett said. “It is a lot of work for staff. We didn’t want to be putting on Star Wars Days that were not as good as before.”
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he was “surprised” to hear Friday of the end of Star Wars Days because of its popularity but was hopeful that the alternative event will be well received.
“The event itself is great,” O’Dekirk said. “We will just have a different forum for it and keep it going.”
The library in its news release said it will plan “a new family friendly, Star Wars movie event outdoors next summer for all ages.” Details will be announced later.
“We still want to offer ways for our patrons to celebrate Star Wars and its connection to literacy,” Millen said in the release. “Star Wars Day is an event that we are very proud of.”
In addition to re-enactors, a parade, movie-themed music and other activities, Star Wars Day would feature books connected to the movies and bring out authors of Star Wars books.
This is a developing story. Check for updates.
Source: The Daily Chronicle