By Andy Grimm
7:31 PM EDT, April 21, 2014
Local Stormtroopers are falling into line behind Chicago’s bid to become the site of a museum devoted to the work of “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas.
Chicago-area members of the 501st Legion — a 6,600-member international organization of Star Wars fans who dress in the white body armor of the Galactic Empire — are hoping to make a show of force Wednesday at a public hearing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Lucas Museum Task Force at the Chicago Cultural Center, said Brian Troyan, a Near West Side resident and commanding officer of the 501st Legion’s Chicago-based Midwest Garrison.
Emanuel last week announced creation of the task force to entice the filmmaker to locate his Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in Chicago, after the rejection of Lucas’ proposal to locate a $700 million museum on national park land with views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, near his northern California home. Lucas last summer married Chicago native Mellody Hobson.
Troyan said the mayor’s office reached out to the Midwest Garrison last week requesting Stormtroopers’ presence at the meeting, though he was not sure how large a contingent he could muster from his roster of about 130 active Chicago-area troopers on short notice.
“We’re all part-time Stormtroopers. Wednesday is my anniversary, so I won’t be there,” he said. “My wife is not that big a fan of ‘Star Wars.’”
Monday, city spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper offered a different story, saying the mayor’s office had not attempted to seek the aid of the “universal symbol of Imperial might” in the cause.
“While we won’t need the enforcement of the 501st Legion, we share their enthusiasm to have the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in our City,” Cooper said Monday in an email to the Tribune. “May the Force be with Chicago.”
Asked whether Stormtroopers would be allowed to enter in full costume, Cooper replied, “It’s a public meeting.”
When Lucas was making his bid to locate the museum in San Francisco, Troyan noted, members of the local Golden Gate Garrison were asked not to wear costumes to public events.
“They might have been trying to go a little more high-brow,” he said. “They were trying to convince someone to have the museum there, and now the shoe is on the other foot. Here, the city is courting Lucasfilm.”
But the interests of the Galactic Empire and the mayor’s office are completely aligned in this case, Troyan said.
“I’m going to tell my troopers to do whatever the city wants,” he said. “We’re soldiers on the front lines when it comes to promoting ‘Star Wars.’”
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