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Star Wars Invades Chicago

The first community to fall to the Star Wars stamps was not Hollywood, not even Alderan, but the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. VSC Special Correspondent Randall Sherman has a photo essay.

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Members of the 501st Legion, Vader's Fist, a Star Wars costumer organization based in the Midwest, marched across the stage of the Forest View Educational Center Theater in Arlington Heights, Ill., at the start of the May 25 First Day of Sale ceremony for the Star Wars stamps.  The 11 a.m. ceremony, held some 10½ hours before the scheduled start of the official First Day of Issue ceremony that evening in Los Angeles, was held during the opening day of the COMPEX 2007 Stamp Show.
COMPEX 2007 President Charles Berg served as Master of Ceremonies and gave the opening remarks at the ceremony.
As in the movies, an operational R2D2 stole the show.  (The three people in costume behind R2D2 as Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are actually local postal workers; "Luke," in his standard USPS uniform, would staff the USPS Sales Booth at COMPEX during the final two days of the show.)
American First Day Cover Society President (and VSC member) Chris Lazaroff was among the speakers at the First Day of Sale Ceremony.
The big moment, as Arlington Heights postmaster Elizabeth P. Owens and AFDCS president Chris Lazaroff prepare to unveil the stamps.
The stamps are unveiled!  (L-R:) R2D2; Bart Benjamin , director, Cernan Earth & Space Center; Janet L. Oliver, USPS Operations Support Specialist; Arlington Heights postmaster Elizabeth P. Owens; AFDCS president Chris Lazaroff; and Arlington Heights village trustee Thomas Stengren.
When the ceremony had concluded, veteran philatelists and youngsters alike flocked the stage to obtain autographs from the ceremony participants.
COMPEX 2007 president Charles Berg autographing ceremony programs.
This stormtrooper quickly found out his uniform was not designed with autographing ease in mind.  However, he was able to sign the program and make this young fan happy.
The youngsters, who came to the ceremony and to COMPEX 2007 on field trips from three elementary schools in Elmwood Park, Illinois, flocked around "Chewbacca" for an autograph.
A stormtrooper poses with some young fans following the ceremony.
AFDCS president Chris Lazaroff and Arlington Heights village trustee Thomas Stengren autograph Ceremony Programs.

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