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A long time ago in a city far, far away from Fran McGarry’s childhood home, she and her family gathered in a movie theater to watch the science fiction film known as “Star Wars.”

Years later, that same movie – retitled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” by creator George Lucas – still stands out in McGarry’s mind.

“I can actually remember where I saw it for the first time,” said McGarry, president and owner of ACME Comics & Collectibles. “At the time, it blew everything out of the water. There just wasn’t anything like it in comparison. I’ve seen every movie – for good or bad – since then.”

McGarry saw the 1977 film with her sister and father at an Omaha movie theater that no longer exists. She remembers sitting in the balcony watching the action unfold. Since her family lived on a farm on the outskirts of Omaha, going to the movies was considered “a treat.”

McGarry only saw the iconic film once in theaters. But, still, she became enthralled with “Star Wars” and its sequels and prequels.

“We had no idea what we were walking into,” she said.

The “Star Wars” franchise has since become one of the most widely recognized brands and inspired a worldwide phenomenon, something McGarry said even she didn’t expect when the first film was released. As a moviegoer, it wasn’t the effects and visuals that impressed McGarry (well, maybe a little bit), it was the film’s plot that solidified her fandom.

Truthfully, McGarry said she didn’t buy into the phenomenon until she was older. In college, she met her future husband Kevin, who’s also a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise. Together, they traveled to different “Star Wars” conventions and became immersed in “Star Wars” culture.

“I was the odd one in the family,” she said. “I was into sci-fi and I was into  fantasy. My parents were strict and old-fashioned. We had a certain amount of TV that we could watch, so I watched my 'Star Trek.' That was the one thing no one could take away.”

But anyone could say they’ve dressed up like a Stormtrooper and walked into a random “Star Wars” convention and said, “I’m the biggest fan.” To be a true hardcore “Star Wars” fanatic, one must have a profoundly unique experience. McGarry has certainly earned that title.

The year 2012 was rough for the McGarry family. For a bit of relief, husband and wife decided to go to a “Star Wars” convention during the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary. McGarry was surprised by her husband, who arranged for them to renew their vows in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, a spaceship helmed by Han Solo.

To make the event even more memorable, the ceremony was officiated by Elvis Trooper – a helmetless Stormtrooper complete with Elvis-like sideburns, pompadour and cape, who also was an ordained minister. Actor (and good friend of the McGarry family) Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, walked McGarry down the aisle as bystanders began to hum the tune to “The Imperial March.”

“I thought we were going to take a photo op,” said McGarry. “But then he got down on one knee. He got me good. I don’t think we’ll top that. It was so surreal.”


Weekender reporter

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