Nov. 18, 2017

By Josh Cooper – Gulls Correspondent

The San Diego Gulls are prepared and pumped for a celebration of all things “Star Wars” on Saturday Nov. 18 for the team’s Star Wars Night at Valley View Casino Center.

It’s the third straight year the Gulls have honored the popular movie franchise and players are interested to see how fans will react to this season’s event.

“It’s kind of cool,” said Gulls defenseman and “Star Wars” fan Keaton Thompson. “I think last year we saw some parent dressed their kid up as Yoda and put the ears on and painted him green.”

During warm-ups, the Gulls will wear customized “Star Wars” jerseys, and fans will have an opportunity to bid on these jerseys after the game. All proceeds will benefit the Anaheim Ducks Sled Hockey Team.

There will be a Star Wars Tailgate, presented by Bud Light, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The tailgate will feature a $5 Bud Light Truck, ice cream sandwiches from The Baked Bear, a 25-foot rock-climbing wall, food options from Sub Fusion Food Truck, street hockey, photos with the Gulls Girls and Gulliver, and interactive games for all fans.

If you’re one of the first 50 fans to come to the tailgate dressed as your favorite “Star Wars” character, you’ll receive a free ice cream sandwich from The Baked Bear. Five of the best dressed fans at the tailgate will also be selected as finalists in the Gulls’ “Star Wars” costume contest where you’ll be invited on the ice during intermission and take home a “Star Wars” prize.

“I’m a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan, I can remember seeing them in the theaters so for me this near and dear to my heart. I’m excited to do it,” Gulls President of Business Operations Matt Savant said. “The fans really love it. They dress up. My kids will be dressed up. Fans dress up their kids and I think the players and coaches enjoy it and it adds a little bit of levity.”

“Star Wars” themed nights around sports have become the norm the last few seasons, coinciding mostly with the releases of the latest “Star Wars” films. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released in December of 2015. Last year the film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was released in the late fall. Next month “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will be released.

“This brand, the ‘Star Wars’ brand is universally accepted. It’s an accepted grouping of movies and an accepted genre of entertainment. You have others like ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ and those aren’t recreated in sporting activities and it’s pretty interesting,” Savant said. “I think it’s just because it’s a part of our culture growing up and the fact they revived the movies makes it acceptable again because now our kids are starting to engage in them. A couple of years ago my kids wore ‘Star Wars’ for Halloween and I remember years ago I was dressing as ‘Star Wars’ for Halloween.”

Thompson said he and some college friends spent some time watching all the “Star Wars” movies and that was how he got into the franchise.

“Me and my roommates decided to do a marathon of it and then I became a fan of it, otherwise I didn’t really watch it before,” he said. “Seeing it now is kind of different than before, but I kind of like the whole idea.”

Added Thompson, “We actually watched it twice, once in the normal order, like how you’re supposed to watch it and then we switched two or three movies.

More than anything, for Saturday he’s interested to see how fans will dress this season. Every year it seems like the costumes for “Star Wars” themed nights get more and more creative and players certainly notice.

“It’s almost like another Halloween,” Thompson said. “It’s fun to see, it’s cool to see fans go all out and see the costumes they bring out. I think that’s a unique part of it,”