This was the fun fans were looking for.
The Cyclones had no need to play any Jedi mind tricks to get padawans young and old excited about “Star Wars” Night at MCU Park on July 11.
Thousands of Rebel Alliance supporters and Sith sympathizers were on hand for an evening full of lightsaber performances, meet-and-greet photo opportunities with their favorite characters, and charitable lightsaber raffles. Fans agreed that the Force was strong with the Cyclones.
“We had a terrific time,” said Scott Sharinn, who brought his son Ashton to the game. “The kids were pretending to be Jedis and playing with their lightsabers all day.”
Several groups of amatuer lightsaber-duel coreographers, including the Empire Saber Guild, came dressed as fan favorites — including Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, as well as original creations. Throughout the game, the saber-weilding swashbucklers performed an original tale of Sith Lords attempting to conquer the Empire State Building, all in an effort to raise money for Saint Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Queens. One performer said she enjoyed the night as much as the fans who came to watch.
“Performing in front of that many people with so many kids excited to see you was incredible,” said Michele Montanez, a Bensonhurst resident who performed with the Empire Saber Guild for the first time. “There is so much joy on their faces because they get to see ‘real’ light sabers.”
Junior Jedis also took part in lightsaber lessons along the concourse, while scruffy-looking nerfherders in attendance had the chance to get Imperial Stormtroopers to grab their friends and put them in a bounty hunter cage — also to raise funds for the children’s hospital.
Nearly 100 fans who purchased a special ticket package even got to sleep over on the field after the game, enjoying clips from the classic film played on the big screen.