Wait is over for Star Wars fans in P.E.I.

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 18, 2015

Ryan Casey jokes that next to his family, Star Wars has been the one constant in his life.

The 37-year-old Charlottetown resident became such a big fan that he ended up joining the 501st Legion, an international costuming organization.

Since 1997, the 501st Legion has been spreading the magic of the genre worldwide through its authentic-looking costumes.

They call themselves bad guys doing good.

Anticipation for the new movie, "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens," is off the charts.

QUIZ: HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW STAR WARS?

By late November, the movie had passed $50 million at the box office in advance ticket sales.

Cineplex says the movie has had the highest demand for tickets for any movie in its history.

"I went to a movie store with my father and I can remember distinctly him taking the cassette off the wall and saying 'Let's go home and watch this movie','' Casey says, noting that it was the sound and energy of the first movie in 1977 that got him hooked.

"(The fever) has always been there. It resonates. When you grow up and reach my age it's just fun. It's an easy movie to understand.''

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW CASEY RANKS THE STAR WARS MOVIES

The Montague Consolidated School teacher has sunk some serious coin into making his own stormtrooper costume and participates in various charity-related events. Casey also appeared, in costume, in the recent Charlottetown Christmas parade.

Christina Smith of Charlottetown singled out the 501 when asked what she loves about the movies.

"I . . . love the community that loves Star Wars, like the 501st costume club who does fundraisers and hospital runs to help people and children in need,'' Smith said.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT 501ST LEGION

The movie debuts with advance screenings in Charlottetown and Summerside on Thursday night.

Casey bought his tickets in late October.

Jason White, 39, of Charlottetown is another big fan.

"I had a great mom. She would rent me Muppets and Star Wars movies,'' White says. "Because we didn't have a lot of money a lot of the action figures I came across were from yard sales or hand-me-downs. I remember as a kid using the cocktail swords you get in sandwiches . . . with the characters. I never had guns and stuff.''

White says it resonates for him because they aren't just science fiction action movies.

"It was a really great story. As a kid, visually it was amazing. It took me to another realm. You were immersed in it.''

Dylan Roberts, 38, of Charlottetown, says good-versus-evil has a wide appeal.

"Everyone from every ethnic background and religion across the world can draw from these similarities and enjoy the stories,'' Roberts says. "It's become such a worldwide story. It draws a lot of parallels we have within our own societies.''

Casey says it's hard to describe what it will feel like to see all the iconic characters on screen again.

"I'm prepared for whatever happens. I'm probably going to go more than once.''

And, for those going to a show on Friday or Saturday in Charlottetown be on the lookout for Casey in his stormtrooper outfit.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

About 501st Legion:

162 - Number of active members in Canada

7 - Provinces that have active members (Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I.

250 - Canadian members with Lucasfilm-approved screen accurate costumes

$38,000 - Money raised for charity by members this year

The Guardian asked superfan Ryan Casey to rank the movies in order of best to worst:

- Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977

- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983

- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005

- Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002

- Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999