Star Wars Celebration I: The 10 Year Anniversary

Star Wars Roadtrip

Well, I was going over some pictures a few months ago trying to pick some good ones to upload to my Flickr blog when I came across pictures of my trip to Denver, CO in 1999 for the first Star Wars Celebration. While looking at them, it dawned on me that this trip happened 10 years ago this weekend. TEN YEARS!!! Man, time flies.

The Star Wars Celebration I occurred from April 30 – May 2, 1999 in Denver, CO.  It was held as a “celebration” (obviously) of the original Star Wars trilogy as well as a “release party” for the new Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace (which was set to release in less than a month from that time).

At that particular time I was on a client site in Tampa and I went to the Celebration with my friends Jason Collier and Jonathan Loden. Denver had inclement weather the entire weekend so it was either rainy or sprinkling at all times.  Plus, since this was the first official Star Wars convention in many years, some of the mechanics of the operation were not as well oiled a machine as you would come to see in Celebration II and Celebration III.  Despite that, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I went.

Let’s take a little photo walk through some of that weekend’s festivities.

SW Celebration I entrance

The venue for Star Wars Celebration I was Denver’s Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. It was out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but airfield around it. The convention area in the main building was big enough, but they had trailers and portables setup in the airfield for other events and guest appearances. Above is the entrance to the main hanger where all the vendors and exhibitors laid out their wares.  This was also where you could find the “Celebration Store” that sold exclusive Celebration merchandise and Star Wars toys.  The Episode I figures would make their first appearance in this store for $8 a piece.  The only figs left when we went through at the end of Day 1 (Friday) were Jar Jar Binks, and I wasn’t about to pay 8 bucks for a figure of Jar Jar.  The rest of the figures as well as all of the toys would receive wide release in toy stores the following Sunday.

SW Celebration I Program

Here’s the official program. It listed out all of the events that were happening for the weekend. There were some last minute cancellations, so they had to print an addendum. Here’s the program they printed with the updated listings. This image would also be used on the official Celebration I poster.

Darth Maul 3 day pass

This is the three day admission badge given to Celebration attendees. You could buy single day as well as this three day badge on the morning of each day as well as pre-ordered from the Star Wars fan club. However the one, two and three day badges sold on each morning sold out quickly during these “day of” sales.  There were 9 other badges besides this including the Friday badge with Obi-Wan, the Saturday badge with Qui-Gon and the Sunday badge with Anakin. See all of the other badges here.

In Tent BIn Line

Here’s some pics of Jon, Jason and I at the Celebration. In the first pic Jon Loden and I are sitting in Tent B waiting for a Star Wars celebrity to take the stage for a Q & A. Like I said, it rained like crazy that whole weekend so that’s why we looked DRENCHED in water.  I’m holding a copy of Star Wars Insider to get it autographed by whomever showed up. In the second pic, Jon, Jason and I (right to left) are standing in line waiting to get into one of the Tents in order to see a celebrity Q & A.  The second pic was taken either the second or the third day of the Celebration.  I can tell because Jason is wearing the Star Wars Celebration hat he bought from the store on day one.

What was interesting about this first Star Celebration was that there wasn’t any sort of “Autograph Alley”.  Usually with these conventions there is a common area set up for you to get all the actors to sign autographs.  However at Celebration I, the celebrities were only doing “Q & A” type interviews on two separate stages.  After the interview, they also took questions from the audience (much like San Diego Comic Con and their “panels”).  Years later, Celebration II in Indianapolis would have the roped off autograph area as well as many more celebrities to get an autograph from, but not at Celebration I.  If you wanted to get an autograph you had to run up to the stage after the Q & A and hold up your stuff for them to sign.  Most of them stayed for an extra 5 minutes or so and signed stuff.  The first day it was very easy to get autographs, but by the last day, everyone had caught on to the “run up to the stage” routine and it became increasingly difficult to get your stuff signed.

Some of the celebrities that attended:

Ray ParkRay Park who played Darth Maul. Ray would go on to play Toad in the first X-Men movie and he’ll play Snake Eyes in the new GI Joe movie.

Anthony Daniels and Rick McCallumThe actor who played C-3PO, Anthony Daniels (in the gold coat), was the host on the main stage. He interviewed all the celebrities. Here you see him asking Prequel trilogy producer, Rick McCallum, questions about the new movie.

Warwick DavisThis is Warwick Davis who played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Warwick would go on to star in the movie Willow and the Leprechaun franchise.

All of us flew out on Sunday evening. I went back to Tampa and got in a little after midnight. I drove down to the local Toys R Us that was by where I worked and walked in around 12:30am or 12:45am. I was there to pick up the previously mentioned new Star Wars toys that went on sale at midnight. Most of the crowds had dispersed so I was able to pick up most of the toys that night. I finished the ones I missed at a Target the next morning.

That weekend would begin the new wave of Star Wars toy collecting that continues to this day. And in three more weeks, we would have the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years.

Happy 10 years Star Wars Celebration I!

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10 Responses to “Star Wars Celebration I: The 10 Year Anniversary”

  1. Your former freakin' neighbor Says:

    I am very jealous. I have been fanning the flames of my inner SW geek (The ForceCast podcast helps) and would have loved to go to that. Brings up my humongous problem with the Prequel Trilogy- Darth Maul, intergalactice badass, is on every poster and is easily the coolest character in it yet is in the movie for 10 minutes and has 10 words. How could a character so cool be so horribly punked by Obi Wan? Heck, even in the book that bears his name (Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter) he gets taken out by a bounty hunter in the first 10 pages. One would think that a Sith apprentice would be more, well successful.

    WHile I am on the subject, none of the Sith are particularly good at their jobs. Asajj Ventress loses on a weekly basis, Count Dooku is older than my grandpa and Darth Vader got chopped into tiny bits and then betrayed Palpatine. Hardly the Golden age of the Sith. 1000 years of scheming and they get brought down by a whiny kid with a bowl haircut and some teddy bears. The Clones are the real butt-kickers. If Papa Palpatine had kept ordering them from those spaghetti-fish people, he might have held on to the Galaxy for more than 20 years.

  2. I agree Maul was grossly mis-used. Easily Lucas’ greatest creation since Vader and Boba Fett and definitely the most interesting character in the prequel trilogy.

    I feel Lucas should have used Maul in the place of Palpatine in Phantom Menace. Maul should have been the one to talk to the Niemodians and Maul should have been the face of the Sith, especially to the audience. Then, in a small scene at the end of the movie, you see Maul talking to Sidious for the first and only time. Then we, as the audience, realize he was the apprentice.

    And Maul should have lived to fight another day. I mean, Dooku was cool, but imagine if Maul had escaped the battle with Obi-Wan and returned in Clones to fight Anakin? That would have been BAD ASS!! I know Qui-Gon needed to die, and Maul could have still killed him, but then left Obi-Wan to die on Naboo. Maul could have easily survived one more movie and the trilogy would have been more interesting for it. And that would have provided another continuing rivalry to make the transition to a new actor as Anakin easier.

    Just my thoughts.

  3. Wow, bet that was really neat!!!

  4. wow, very cool! I do remember the movie Willow.

  5. I was there, but I had to work the show in the Star Wars Kids booth, we (the Star Wars Kids artists) were drawing caricatures to benefit a local children’s home and teaching kids how to draw whatever Star Wars characters they wanted.

    So I missed most of the events, but I did get to roam the show before it opened and play with all the stuff, and I even helped out stocking the store for some free Legos.

    I was just thinking about putting up some of my photos from the convention, 10 years, flew by.

  6. teddy bear…

    Star Wars Celebration I: The 10 Year Anniversary « Cavalcade of Awesome…

  7. […] Also in 1999, Pepsi was test marketing a new soda called Storm.  It was a caffeinated lemon-lime soda and possibly the precursor to Sierra Mist.  The test market Storm cans also had Star Wars characters on them.  They were essentially copies of the Pepsi Qui-Gon Jinn and Pepsi Jar Jar Binks cans, but unnumbered.  Pepsi was passing out free cans of Storm to people who attended the original Star Wars Celebration in Denver. […]

  8. […] Jason and I also attended Star Wars Celebration I in Denver.  I talked about Celebration I on it’s 10th anniversary in 2009. […]

  9. […] talk a bit about the lead up to Episode I, the first trailer in November 1998, Star Wars Celebration I in Denver in May 1999 as well as our thoughts watching the movie for the first time. We then go all over the place […]

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