JOLIET – The Joliet Public Library estimates more than 10,000 people came to Star Wars Day, making it the biggest crowd yet, and organizers are making plans to make next year's event bigger.
The event held Saturday is organized by the library, which on Monday began plans for Star Wars Day 2016. Next year's event could include reenactments of movie scenes for the first time.
Event Coordinator Roger Burns said 4,200 brochures were handed out to adults and 4,900 badges were given to children at the free event. But the total number of attendees could be much higher because it is unlikely every adult took a brochure.
"I might be underrating it," Burns said. "There could have been more (people)."
Burns said there was so much interest in the lightsaber demonstrations staged Saturday that he wants to get another block of Chicago Street closed next year for reenactments of Star Wars battles and dramatic presentations based on the movies.
He said the more than 120 re-enactors from Star Wars costume clubs who came to the event would make such staged events possible. More are likely to come next year, Burns said.
Two lightsaber demonstrations were held Saturday in the auditorium at the Joliet Area Historical Museum by members of costume clubs.
"It was packed, and there were hundreds of people who were still disappointed that they didn't get to see it," Burns said. "Those guys could have done it all day. If they did that for six hours, they would still be filled all day."
Burns' idea is to create a bigger stage by closing off a second block of Chicago Street to the south for movie scene and battle re-enactments.
"We'd like to grow it," he said.
Burns said he was told by members of the clubs, which are international organizations, that the more than 120 re-enactors in movie-authentic costumes attending Saturday was second only to a Star Wars event held in Anaheim, California.
Star Wars Day is centered at the Joliet Public Library in downtown Joliet. Sections of Clinton and Chicago streets alongside the library were closed off for the event.
Just how many people might come next year is hard to tell. Before Saturday, Burns did not know if the 2014 turnout of 7,000 people would be the peak. Just two years ago, Star Wars Day attracted 4,500 people.
Star Wars Day 2016 is tentatively scheduled for June 4.