On Saturday evening, Toronto saw hundreds of people, armed with all manner of replica Lightsabers, descend upon the city’s Nathan Phillips Square to take part in a large free-for-all.
Despite the threat of rain — eventually the hard stuff did come down toward the end of the night — Elliott Chun, a communications manager at Best Buy, estimates some 1,000 people made the trip to Nathan Philips Square to take part in the Lightsaber battle.
Officially, they were there to celebrate with Best Buy the imminent release of Star Wars: Battlefront, the upcoming first-person shooter developed by Dice Interactive, the studio best known for the popular and critically acclaimed Battlefield franchise. The game did not make an appearance at the event. In any case, I imagine most people were there because the event gave them the excuse to wave their replica lightsabers around. It’s also worth noting the Lightsaber Battle is something of an annual tradition here in Toronto. Organizer Newmindspace has been helping get the city’s would-be Jedi together for almost a decade.
Indeed, Chun says he and co-workers more broadly envisioned the night as a way to celebrate the “year of Star Wars”. With the release of The Force Awakens a mere two months away, excitement for the franchise is at an all-time high. For Best Buy, that excitement has manifested itself into huge demand for Star Wars-related merchandise. Toys like the BB-8 Sphero have been flying off its stores’ shelves, and the company expects that trend to continue from now to the end of the holiday shopping season.
So, how do you celebrate the “Year of Star Wars”? Well, one way is to get a pair of professional duelists to battle it using the closest thing to a real Lightsaber. For many, myself included, this the highlight of the night. The performers put on a compelling show, parrying, riposting and back flipping their way through a several minute long scripted sequence — though if there was a disappointing aspect to the fight, it’s that the actor portraying the Sith Lord lost.
Seemingly on cue — and adding to the dramatic effect — when he fell, the heavens opened up and it began to pour. This is when most people decided to start making their way home. Still, judging by the smiling faces on the subway, most had had a good time.