Jackson County

Use the force they will, at Gautier Library's Jedi Academy

GAUTIER -- Become Jedis they will. That was the goal of the Gautier Library's Jedi Academy.

The library hosted its academy Tuesday night and young Jedi wannabes (known in the "Star Wars" universe as younglings) from across Jackson County arrived hoping to learn the ancient ways of the Force.

The training was a way for the library to acknowledge May 4, which is officially known as "Star Wars Day." The day is based on a play on words from one of the film franchise's most famous quotes, "May the force be with you."

"We wanted to do this for May the 4th Be With You or 'Star Wars Day,' said Mary Rogers, services assistant. "(But) we decided to do this on May 3 because it was the shift that I was working."

Rogers, whose favorite Jedi is Luke Skywalker, said the younglings were trained in three of the major disciplines of a Jedi -- strength, agility and endurance. Each participant built their own lightsaber, the Jedi weapon of choice, and used the lightsaber in training exercises.

And there were also snacks such as edible lightsabers made of pretzels and even gummy Ewoks.

At the end of the session, each participant received a Jedi tunic and a certificate.

It appears 2016 will be a big year for the "Star Wars" franchise -- the eighth chapter in the saga, "The Force Awakens" was released to DVD and pay-per-view platforms in April. It has made more than $2 billion in theaters since its December release. A new standalone movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is set to hit theaters just before Christmas.

Although many of those attending the training weren't alive when the first prequel, "The Phantom Menace" was released in 1999, much less the original film in 1977, "The Force Awakens" seemed to hit home with every young Jedi.

Addisen Coursey, 9, said her favorite "Star Wars" movie is "The Force Awakens" and that she was excited to participate in the Jedi training.

"My favorite Jedi is Rey," she said. "I'm hoping to be able to use my Jedi powers to take down Kylo Ren."

While most of the students chose Jedis from the light side of the force as their role models, Mason Monoho, 9, went old school with his choice.

"My favorite Jedi is Darth Vader," Mason said. "I'm looking forward to making a lightsaber but I'm going to use my powers for good, not evil."

Mason got to see Vader up close Tuesday night as the Sith lord made a special appearance at the Jedi academy. Vader was on his best behavior, though, and no Jedi perished in his presence.

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