‘Star Wars’ night, Beatles tribute among promotionsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
A squadron of X-wing pilots will take on the Dark Side next month when the Toledo Walleye host a “A New Hope: Star Wars Night” on Nov. 2.
The Walleye will wear X-Wing jerseys while the visiting Kalamazoo Wings will wear Darth Vader jerseys, said Michael Keedy, manager of special events for the Walleye.
“That’s the most exciting part,” Keedy said. “I can’t confirm this 100 percent, but it might be the first time in league history that both teams have been outfitted in themed jerseys. The designs are really cool. We’re extremely excited about it.”
Both sets of jerseys will be auctioned for charity after the game. Proceeds from the X-Wing jerseys will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and proceeds from the Darth Vader jerseys will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
More than a dozen Star Wars characters will be at the game. There will also be Star Wars-themed merchandise, music and food and beverage options, such as Yoda Soda, Boba Fettuccine and a Chewbacca bacon burger, Keedy said.
Fans are encouraged to wear costumes. There will be costume cams and prizes for the best costumes, Keedy said.
Chris Blackstock of Chesterfield, Mich., will be there — and hard to miss. He will be wearing a Chewbacca costume complete with 15-inch stilts that make him 7 feet, 7 inches tall.
Blackstock has been part of international Star Wars costuming organizations 501st Legion (for the “bad guys”) and the Rebel Legion (for the “good guys”) for about five years. Participants have to have their costumes approved for accuracy and, as part of an agreement with Lucas Films, cannot charge for appearances.
In the past, Blackstock has portrayed a stormtrooper and Darth Vader, but said he likes Chewbacca best.
“Chewbacca is just too much fun,” he said. “Darth Vader has to be scary and imposing all the time. Chewie can have fun. I can mess around with people — high-five the kids, hug the pretty girls.”
Blackstock made his own costume by weaving together strands of synthetic hair. There are only about 35 approved Chewbacca costumes in the world, he said. The next closest Chewie is in Milwaukee.
He once met Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewie and who complimented his costume.
“[He and his wife] were both very complimentary on how it looked,” Blackstock said. “We are about as accurate and authentic looking as you’re going to get.”
Yes, he makes the Wookiee noise.
“I get asked all the time, ‘Can you make the noise?’” Blackstock said. “I do. It just adds to the whole thing.”
Another new promotion will be a Beatles Tribute Night on Feb. 1, in honor of the band’s Feb. 9, 1964, debut performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Keedy said.
The night will include Beatles-themed food and drinks as well as live performances from The BackBeats, a Beatles tribute band.
“That’s going to be a lot of fun,” Keedy said. “They will be playing throughout the night. It’s going to be a great hockey game as well as a concert experience in the arena that night.”
For Hockey Heritage Weekend on Feb. 21-22, the Walleye will wear Toledo Storm jerseys on both nights.
“We expect this to be very popular with longtime hockey fans,” Keedy said. “We will have a few surprises for Storm fans.”
Dec. 28 is Ugly Sweater Night. Fans are encouraged to wear ugly sweaters and the Walleye will be wearing ugly sweater jerseys.
“We will not release the design ahead of time. The first time fans will see them will be when they enter the ice that night,” Keedy said. “We’re just telling fans they will be wearing the ugliest sweater in sports history.”
Pink in the Rink
Pink in the Rink, featuring dyed pink ice and dedicated to breast cancer awareness and fundraising, is set for March 1-2. The ice will be dyed green March 15-16 for St. Patrick’s Day. The Walleye will wear green jerseys on March 15 and there will be green beer specials and live Irish music playing during both games.
Nov. 23 is the annual Teddy Bear Toss, where fans throw stuffed animals on the ice after the first Walleye goal. The toys are then distributed to children by Lucas County Children Services and the Toledo Police.
“The fans really get into that one,” Keedy said. “Our goal is to have a packed house that night and everybody have a teddy bear to toss. It’s a really fun event for a really great cause.”
Also on Nov. 23 is the third annual Battle of the Badges game, pitting Toledo Police against Toledo Fire and Rescue. Fans who buy a Walleye game ticket also get into the Battle of the Badges game. A portion of proceeds will benefit police and fire charities.
On April 4, the Toledo Mud Hens will host Opening Day at 4 p.m. followed by a Walleye game at 7:15 p.m.
“Last year there was a Walleye playoff game and a Mud Hens game on the same night,” Keedy said. “We’re staggering the start times so we can have a true doubleheader Downtown. We anticipate that being an extremely popular night.”
Hockey and Hops beer are another popular event, Keedy said. For $45, patrons get unlimited beer samples, all-you-can-eat dinner buffet, a souvenir glass, a raffle ticket for door prizes and a game ticket, Keedy said. Dates are Nov. 29, Dec. 28 and March 14.
“We highlight a different brand every event, so if you were to come to two events or all three, there will be different beers,” Keedy said.
Nov. 17 is Veterans Appreciation Night. April 11 is Superhero Night. Two bobbleheads will be given away: player Cody Lampl on Nov. 29 and head coach Nick Vitucci on Jan. 3.
A postgame party with players open to ticketholders is held every Friday night home game. A postgame skate with players is held one Sunday per month.
For more information, visit toledowalleye.com/promotions. Promotions are subject to change.
Tags: 501st Legion, Battle of the Badges, Beatles, Chesterfield, Chewbacca, Chewie, Cody Lampl, dark side, Darth Vader, Ed Sullivan Show, Hockey Heritage Weekend, Lucas County Children Services, LucasFilms, Michigan, Milwaukee, Nick Vitucci, Rebel Legion, St. Patrick's Day, Star Wars, Star Wars Night, Teddy Bear Toss, The BackBeats, Toledo Fire and Rescue, Toledo Police, Toledo Storm, Veterans Appreciation Night, X-wing pilots