The other highlight (let's be honest, the main highlight) of my Spring this year was a trip to Star Wars Celebration Chicago. I have always wanted to attend a "Con," and when I found out that Star Wars Celebration was going to be in driving distance this year, I jumped at the opportunity. My sister lives in the Chicago area, so housing was free, public transportation was easy and cheap, and the whole family could come with me and spend time with relatives while I nerded out at the convention. It was a win-win-win situation! Each day brought its own highlights, so here is a brief recap of each day.
The first day of the con was a floor preview only. There were no panels or big events, just several hours to explore the booths on the showroom floor, and all of the glorious, glorious merchandise and convention exclusives. It was a good thing I had been saving money since last year in anticipation of this event... The biggest highlight of the day was just exploring all of the great vendors, and let's be honest, buying cool stuff.
The second day of the con was the first day of panels, and the big one for the day was the Episode IX panel. I did not win a lottery spot to get into this panel, but it worked out because I got to take Harrison with me today to explore the convention and make some memories. I kept the day light on panels, considering a 5-year-old does not want to sit and watch people talk on a stage. We did go to one Lego panel that was just OK and did not really keep Harrison interested. What made the day great was exploring all of the booths and photo opportunities with my son. We waited in a lot of lines and Harrison handled it pretty well, for his age. All of our memories more than made up for not watching the Episode IX panel as it aired. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day.
This day was all about the new Galaxy's Edge at Disney Parks. I attended the big panel in the morning and got to see the first reveal of the new Star Wars/Coke merchandise that will be available in the parks. Josh Gad hosted the panel, and I passed him and his entourage later in the day but did not want to be the weird guy around celebrities so I said nothing. The Galaxy's Edge booth on the show floor rotated out new previews of merchandise every day so I made sure to visit once a day to preview everything. They might as well just raid my savings account now... I also went to a panel about Lucasfilm's various VR and AR projects and got a chance to gush to the creators about how great the Secrets of the Empire experience was at the Void in Disney Springs. Oh yeah, I also bought two pairs of new shoes. All in a day's work.
Today was all about the panels for me. I started the day at the panel for The Mandalorian, the new show coming to Disney+ in November. Jon Favreau was there to share a lot about the show, including several chunks of footage that no one else has seen outside of the convention (legally, at least). Then, I just stayed in the big arena to catch a panel with Alan Tudyk and finally, a preview of the last season of the Clone Wars coming to Disney+. I got a few nice exclusive posters, a lot of great previews, and a feast of new Star Wars info.
The last day of the convention brought lots of mixed feelings. I had been in Star Wars heaven for five days and did not really want to go back to work, but I also missed my family, whom I had barely interacted with in five days. The highlight panel of the day was to honor the 20th anniversary of The Phantom Menace. I wasn't too disappointed that I did not get in, and I caught a few snippets on the video stream while I was wandering the show floor one last time. The definite highlight of the day, however, was the panel for the animated show Star Wars Resistance, where they actually screened the entire first episode from Season 2. It was a great surprise and a great way to cap off a fantastic weekend. I also got one last look at the amazing Star Wars saga mural, spanning the entire timeline from The Phantom Menace up to The Rise of Skywalker. The pictures below only do it a little justice.
The whole experience was incredible and one I will never forget. I feel very privileged that I was able to attend and that my family was so gracious to let me attend. Thanks for a great weekend, Star Wars Celebration Chicago!
I have been quiet for a while, but it has been a spring for the ages and writing has been low on the priority list until now. This spring has been so eventful, in fact, that I cannot even fit the excitement into one post. I will just have to leave this one with a tease for more to come.
The first excitement of the spring was something I am very privileged to do every two years for my job: travel to Italy with students! This year was my fourth trip to Italy since I have been teaching, and my colleagues and I have worked hard to create a trip that is memorable and meaningful for our students. The result is a great trip, and our students consistently come back raving about the experience. For us teachers, the trip is essentially the same every time, which I just take as a challenge to search for new experiences. This trip was no exception.
Speaking of our hotel's location, all of us teachers were thrilled to have a hotel located right in the heart of Rome for the first time. We were only a few blocks from the Piazza Venezia and the Roman Forum, and to top it off, our hotel had a beautiful balcony with a panoramic view of the city. The picture below does not do the full experience justice, but it was a highlight and a wonderful new experience.
It can sometimes feel easy to take this trip and great opportunity for granted or complain about having to visit the same places every time, but I have learned to be very intentional about looking for two things: 1) all the new experiences I listed above and many more 2) the joy and wonder of the students experiencing all of these sites for the first time. I have so many pictures with students that tell the story of their own wonderful journeys, full of smiles, awe, and wonder. The students make the experience new every time!
I love my family and this is the place to find all of the adventures we experience.