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After being off the grid for 4 months I was able to jump back into armor and troop again. Life it just seems to get in the way of our fun sometimes. but this post is about the troop not me lol..

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Today I got the pleasure to troop at a place that I have never been to and sadly is only 2 miles down the road from me. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife and Sanctuary.  How cool is this place, packed full of big cats and I mean BIG CATS…

This was a Solo mission today as other have done and it was a joy to take part in the festivities they were offering to all the customers today. I did as we like to do and that is to make new young star wars fans by shaking little hands and take many pictures for them to take home and enjoy.

after about 3 1/2 hours of trooping about watching the tigers and lions play about, I wrapped up my day and said farewell and was on my way.

This was a fun troop and hope to do it again when it comes back around next year. I was able to get some picture because a nice employee named Jennifer hind of was roped into handling for me for about an hour. She was very nice and explained some the history and events as we walked and took pictures with the customers. So thank you for your help Jennifer I really do appreciate it.

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Freedom Festival 2014

01-Freedom Festival 2014 002Sweating it out in armor with new troopers and handlers this past weekend (06-28-2014) at the Orange park mall in Jacksonville, FL.

Freedom Festival was set to honor and support Military personal both retired and enlisted I believe. This was a fun troop with live music, fire trucks and many other booths loaded with information and food.

Squad 7 troopers and handlers met up in front of Dicks sporting store and it was a collection of regulars and new comers. If I have all their names correct we were introduced to Greg, Kevin and Aaron. Greg trooped as Vader and did a fantastic job at that. it was nice to see a Vader representing Squad 7 again.  Kevin and Aaron both working on their armor help handle and it was needed. Thanks to the new comers for coming and trooping with us.

The weather was HOT, the blazing sun beating down forced us to taking breaks every thirty to forty five minutes to ensure no trooper suffered heat exhaustion. we were able to troop on until the end of the event.2-IMG_0025

Squad 7 marched out to the crowed as we like to do and with no hesitation we were engulfed by the crowed to take pictures. we found a slightly shady spot and let the pictures take control as family after family walked and posed with us. it was great and the crowed was good, no problems at all. We walked the perimeter of the event so everybody could get up close and take pictures. we marched about with some good music playing on the main stage. people were dancing and enjoying the music even in the heat.

we wrapped up by taking a quick break and marching in side the mall around the food court and back to our dressing room. The mall crowed felt like the  Paparazzi running ahead of us clicking away on their phones. It was fun and a great way to end this troop. the crowed surly enjoyed seeing  us troop around like we owned the place lol…

This was a Hot but fun troop. I really enjoyed meeting and hanging a bit with some new squad7 members. of course I always enjoy the company of the regular troopers and they did a great job as well.

Squad7 you rock on!!!! Great Troop.

Photographer: Morgan Franklin

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BreakingNewsPhoto

Breaking News!!! Stormtrooper and Tie Pilot exposed (Buckets Off!!)

As reported two imperial staff members one Stormtrooper and One Tie Pilot were seen in these exclusive photos with their buckets off (helmets). It appears from the photo that they were engaged in 501st propaganda. The room filled with young potential recruits that were exposed to the ways of the 501st and how they can start at a young age by joining the Galactic Academe and working their way up to join the empire. But what is the real story here.

The Real story….

Today the 501st trooped the Murray Hill Branch Jacksonville Public

Exclusive Photo

Exclusive Photo

Library for the “Travel to a Galaxy Far, Far Away” event. Two Troopers Me and Gina were invited to mingle with the kids taking photos and giving high fives. We also were able to do a question and answer session and talk a bit about the 501st to both the kids and the parents, well this required us to take off our buckets. It’s the first time that I have done this out in the public. Felt kind of weird but the cause was worth it. It was a limited crowed so not to bad.

Gina and I both spoke for a few min about the great thing we do for charity and people around the city. Also how they can start at their very young age to become a member of a club (Galactic Academe) and start down the road to becoming a 501st member when they hit 18.

The Kids asked question and took photos and then settled in for a movie. Sadly the Library could not do a showing of Star Wars, so they settled on Star fighter if I remember correctly.

This was a fun small troop and gave us a little different way of trooping. Well at least for me it was.

So in all a good troop, check out some more Exclusive Photos

Handler and Photographer: Morgan Franklin

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“Dream Day is a chance for terminally ill children to escape the medical setting of their everyday life and be the center of attention in a way that let’s them just be kids, not sick kids. For some, this was the last time they would leave a hospital” – Kyle Scott

“Come with me and you’ll be, In a world of Pure imagination

Take a look And you’ll see Into your imagination”

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Hold your breath Make a wish Count to three…

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Imagine if you will 30 kids delivered into a dreams or fantasy that have chosen . That was my day today, trooping the PRI Productions event called Dream Day. As the quote above states these kids have terminal conditions. So today was all about them. So let me set the stage as it were. What each child saw as they were delivered to a dream like place.

Each child and their parents would show up at the parking garage. Each child was place in their dream car. Some picked limos and some hot rods, monster trucks and even cop cars. As each child pulled up to the entrances they could hear about 50 people clapping and cheering. As they exited the car a big bill board across the street displayed their name with dazzling effects. An escort led them to a red carpet where Willy Wonka greeted them and started sing the above song “Pure Imagination” from the original Willy Wonk movie and took the child by hand and walk down the long rows of people and character dressed for the event. We had fairies, princesses and the good witch from the wizard of oz, south paw mascot with spider man and of course Storm troopers and a biker scout along with  three  R2 droids.

As Willy walked the carpet the child’s eye were wide with surprise and overwhelming happiness. The person who played Willy Wonka was amazing with these kids. Quickly he determined the best way to integrate the child’s ability to participate in the wonderful walk to the building. Some of the children walked down holding hands with Willy, others were small enough he picked them up and carried them so they could take in all that they were seeing. Some were pushed in a wheel chair and he would help the excited child by slowing them down and so they could take in everything they were seeing. Then as they got to the door Willy explained that beyond those doors was their special dreams and they could enter and enjoy their very special day.

It was amazing to watch each child come through the gate and be greeted and see the overwhelming looks on their faces. I was stationed close to the front and had a great view of the children as they were delivered and escorted to the dream building. As they exited from their dream ride the crowed would start clapping and cheering as they passed us by. As amazing as this event was in terms of creating this fantastic illusion and fantasy I was not ready for the emotions that would hit you when you saw the reality of the condition of some of the kids.

Its was heart breaking, it was overwhelming and you could see it in the faces of their parents as they were stressing to get their child ready for this event. But the moment Willy Wonka took the child from the parent’s, their faces changed from stressed to excitement and celebration. at this moment all the pain, stress and sadness faded away for just a moment. Some smiled, clapped and cheered and other mostly mothers cried, tears of joy. Tears that said thank you for this, all of this. My child is happy and smiling on this day.

The tears were not one sided. My station put me next to Jaguars cheerleaders and overlaid on their smiles were tears, tears that showed they cared and as for me. Well not that anybody could see because of my helmet. There were a few tears that were shed as I watched each of the 30 children past me by. They were so brave, so motivated and you would not think that what they were going through was that tough. But we knew it was, it was very real and they would have to return to that life after they left this wonderful special day. So it was all of our mission to create and cement the dream in their minds to take with them as they faced their greatest challenge. After every child was inside the building the dreams started to take place.

As I understood it each child had a fantasy or dream. So inside there was an area for each of them. A place where they would get gifts just for them and a costumes that they picked. There were rooms all around that were amazing. There was a tea party room. The children could sit and have a tea party with a princesses. They could get ice cream with many fantastic flavors. There were a whole host of places in there that catered to their wishes. Truly, truly their dreams did come true, if only for a day.

The photo below are a small gallery of the day. There will be some amazing photos and video that were taken by PRI Productions. I will link to them as the become available so check back from time to time to see this special even in video.

Photographer: Rob Semos

Here is a slide show of the Kids getting there gold ticket to attend the event: Click Here

 

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PRI Productions website: http://www.priproductions.com/

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GothamCityLimits

 

Standing in the rain, waiting for the doors to open at 10:00 am the line, it was long. what were they waiting on “Free Comic Book Day” I was excited to troop at the Gotham City Limits Comic Book Store on South side Blvd on Saturday the 3rd.

I was surprised a bit by this event. I must admit I have never been a comic book reader so as such I didn’t visit many comic book stores. So I was surprised to see how many people still  have a love for them as I had thought they were all but a historic foot note among the digital age. but I was wrong, every age group were ready to storm the store to  plunder through the plethora of comics that lined the wall.

I didn’t get to spend the whole day there but there were plenty of other troopers that showed up through the day to fill any void that may have been left. I really enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids as they looked at all the comics.

if you get a moment stop by Gotham City Limits. they have an awesome store and I am sure you would find something to read.

Here are some photos of me and the event during my time there.

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What stated out to be an overcast day in St Augustine on Easter Sunday ended up being a beautiful day to troop the parade.  Everybody met up at the Old Jail and started dressing out for the day. Dawn was thoughtful and brought some ribbons for us to wear to show support for Duke who need our prayers and support this past few weeks.

The sky cleared up and it was time to step off and begin our trek through St Augustine. We walked and waved and the crowed as it always has showed their support of the 501st with loud applause as we marched by the long line of people that came to see this wonderful event.

Below are some pictures taken by Summer Leigh Franklin

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Photographer: Summer Leigh Franklin

 

 

2014 Walk to Cure Arthritis

 

Today was another successful troop for the “Walk to a Cure Arthritis” event. Even though the weather hung over us threatening  to rain down on our fun and activities, luckily it stayed at bay until the event ended. Thank goodness.

Troopers suited up and took to the stage around 9:00 am. The event included introductions, Zumba (which I took part in) the Walk of course and a gaggle of Kids trying to take down us troopers.

So one more troop down and many more to come. Here are some pictures of the event today.

 

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Photo by: Victoria Nelson / Handler

 


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I wanted to share with everybody the totals that the 501st , Florida Garrison and Squad 7 rose during 2013 for all the charities we have trooped for.

I try to document each troop I take part in but there are so many more troops that happen which raises money for so many charitable organizations That I am not a part of.

We are lucky enough as a group to do troops that are both fun like parades and then some that really raise money for people that are in desperate need of help.

This year the 501st  , Florida Garrison and Squad 7 did a bang up job helping out where we could and here are the numbers.

501st Legion Charity Total for 2013
Direct donations: $262,328.00
Indirect donations: $32,823,907.00

Florida Garrison Charity Totals for 2013
Direct Donations: $12,270.62
Indirect Donations: $4,409,498.50

Squad 7 Charity Totals for 2013
Direct Donations: $2,780.62
Indirect Donations: $470,858.92

dancing-trooper

Wow, thats all one can say about this troop. what a day we had as a Squad. The weather cleared up and turned out to be an awesome day for the Parade and the Festival.

Our day started in the parking lot at around 7:00am. Troopers gathered up and we visited with each other telling our stories from past events. Bonding time as we all get ready for the parade. its always nice to mingle about and chat it up before an event.

The parade started around 10:00 am and we had a blast giving high fives and posing for some photos for the crowds that lined the streets. Its always nice to here the crowd wind up into a loud cheer as we round a corner. it just brings joy to my hart each time I here it. Means we are doing a good job and that the goal.

After the parade some troopers departed, some dressed down as did it so I could help handle for the troopers that toughed it out and stayed in armor for the better part of the day. We walked around and posed for photos and chatted it up, had some food and drinks.  The people were great and loved seeing the troopers in armor and kilts. this throws some people though and they just have to ask “Why Star Wars and Kilts, Whats the connection?” we really do have a good story other then we were invited and we love to come. maybe we should work on a good back story to tell lol. We trooped from 10:00 to 5:00 when the last trooper was ready to take a rest. He did however head back to the festival for more fun and entertainment.

The Festival is packed with great Celtic music, it fills the are and helps set the mood. you can’t help but feel like you have gone back in time a bit as you hear the music and see everybody in period clothing. Each band takes the stage and plays with all there hart for the fan. But none play with as much hart and soul then Albannach. This band starts with a punch and does not stop until their set is done. you can not stay seated as the drums and bag pipes get the blood moving. They are quit good if i say so myself. you can check them out here on facebook.

What makes a great show even better. The band inviting Storm Troopers to the stage for their last song. There is nothing better then being on stage dancing and having a great time with such a high energy band. Albannach you guys rock!!!

Here are some photos of the days events.

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http://www.celticstaugustine.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AlbannachMusic

501st Squad7 members meet up once again to a show of force at the Art Walk in Downtown Jacksonville. The rain had stopped and the cool weather made for a nice night trooping with all the great people out to enjoy the evening. We walked about and did what we do so well and had a great time. Here are the photo of the evening. Hope to see you at the next Art Walk next month.

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