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Phoenix Awakens with Star Wars-Themed Parties and Events

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Culture Issue: December 2015
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Photo courtesy Mike Alvear / Dune Sea GarrisonThe force is finally about to re-awaken. Everyone is gearing up for the opening day of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Episode VII of the Disney-owned franchise.

From Cover Girl makeup to cereal and Subway kids’ meals, there’s been no shortage of Star Wars branded merchandise since the first TFA trailer sprung up last November. Fans were lining up at movie theaters around the globe as early as December 9 to get a prime seat for the first showing.

With the official release set for this Friday, December 18, and some Valley theaters giving guests a sneak peek on Thursday, there’s no shortage of Star Wars hype around town. Even the Arizona Department of Transportation got in on the fun with cheeky message boards declaring, “Aggressive driving is the path to the dark side” that popped up on Monday.

Indulge your own dark side, or join the rebels, at these five Phoenix-area events celebrating the arrival of the hotly anticipated Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

1. TFA Movie Marathon: Harkins Theatres across the Valley are hosting Star Wars movie marathons in anticipation of The Force Awakens. Starting at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 17, at Harkins' Tempe Marketplace, Superstition Springs and Northfield locations, die-hard fans can catch all seven episodes of the film franchise for $45. The flicks will be shown in numerical order, ending with a Thursday night premiere of TFA at 7 p.m. Ticketholders score swag including free popcorn and loyalty cup, plus a commemorative badge and lanyard. Visit harkinstheatres.com for info. AMC Westgate 20 is hosting a similar marathon showing at 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 17. Films play in chronological order with a total running time of 16 hours and 40 minutes, so bring your Stadium Pal or be prepared to miss a Storm Trooper blaster fight or two during mini-breaks.

2. Phoenix’s Dune Sea Garrison, the Arizona chapter of the international 501st Legion costuming club, will make scheduled appearances at local Harkins theaters dressed in screen-accurate Storm Trooper garb on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Locations include Queen Creek, Spectrum and Tempe Marketplace. Visit az501st.com for appearance calendar.

Photo courtesy Mike Alvear / Dune Sea Garrison3. Give in to the Drunk Side of the Force with all-night happy hour pricing for guests in Jedi robes or Sith costumes at Mill Avenue barcade Endgame (yes, your replica Jar Jar Binks outfit counts, but don’t expect a clean getaway once fans spot you). Look for space-themed cocktails, galactic tunes by DJ Flexstyle and $5 face paint deals from special FX makeup guru Allison Brinkley. Admission is free.

4. FatCats fun center in Gilbert is hosting a Star Wars-themed bash on Thursday, December 17, starting at 5 p.m., with trivia and other contests. Imbibe Blue Milk and Yoda Tea and head to the costume contests at 6:30 and 9 p.m. for a chance to win a $100 gift card plus a free family bowling and pizza night.

5. The Force is strong at Tempe’s C.A.S.A. Sunba, which will host a Star Wars Art Party on Friday, December 18, featuring a collection of Star Wars-inspired artwork rumored to be the largest in the state. Lalo Cota, Gilead and Dain Q. Gore are among the 20 or so featured artists whose visual Jedi mind tricks will be on display. Other events include costume contests (with cash prizes for first, second and third place) and live art demos from Queen Loopy and Darth Ross, The Sith of Painting.