Families met by ‘Star Wars’ heroes and villains at Dia de los Niños book festival

Keeping it in the family, Darth Vader, right, and Kylo Ren, left, use the force while they flank Sammy Clarita at the Dia de los Niños book festival on Saturday. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

As children arrived to the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library on Saturday for the Dia de los Niños book festival, they were met by their favorite “Star Wars” heroes and villains, in full costume with lightsabers aglow.

The festival placed an emphasis on literacy while also celebrating cultures from around the world. Children had the chance to receive giveaway books, while also doing different arts and crafts activities with pipe cleaners or face painting.

“During our event, we provide every single kid and young adult that comes in with a free book that they can have as well as enriching activities for the entire family,” said branch manager Yanira Sidon.

While children made their way across the library, about 30 members of the “Star Wars” themed charity groups, the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion, stood for pictures and posed with guests of all ages.

Children saw the likes of Rey, Boba Fett, Kylo Ren and Darth Vader, and they could also take pictures outside the library with Pet Partners member Liz Bastiani and her llama, Dulce Cannella.

Liz Basiani from Pet Partners, right, holds onto Dulce Cannella as they take pictures with families at the Dia de los Niños book festival. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Teen librarian and Rebel Legion member Kendra Fitzpatrick brought up the idea of incorporating the groups in the book festival. It worked out as another way to promote the summer reading program “A Universe of Stories,” Sidon said.

“Some of my regulars who come into my programs are here, and they absolutely lost it when they saw me in costume,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re like, ‘I want a picture!’ So excited to see them and to have them be so excited for this event.”

Tutor Carmen Takemoto brought several of her students with her to the festival. She works with her students to help them improve their vocabulary and perfect reading English.

Along with picking up books, children at the festival stopped by different arts and crafts tables. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Along with the two groups, lightsaber-wielding members of the Saber Guild performed, giving children a firsthand show of the fight between the dark side and the light.

“They got to see the battle,” Takemoto said about her students. “It was wonderful. It’s better than the movies.”

Following the show, Mayor Marsha McLean read “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” to families.

“To have this kind of a festival here at the library for all the kids – they are enjoying it,” McLean said. “They’re having fun and we’re teaching them the value of knowledge and reading.”

To learn more about the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion, go to rebellegion.com and 501st.com.

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