The ‘force’ strong in Bremen at library
BREMEN — The children’s department of the Bremen Public Library is definitely a “force” to be reckoned with. Especially when it comes to entertaining its young patrons like it did Nov. 7 and 8 during the Star Wars-themed “Guys Night Out.”
Sandy Krost (head of the children’s department) said GNO is in its second year and was started in response to the young male readers claiming it was unfair that the girls had an annual tea party and nothing was being offered for them. “The tea parties are held in the spring (since 1998) so the fall was a natural choice for the boys,” Krost explained. “All the staff at the library work together to create a successful program.”
Last year the library offered the boys “The Little Engine That Could” but the Star Wars nights were truly out of this world. With the combined efforts of staff members Brenda Anderson, also known during GNO as Princess Leia (who worked on decorating, costumes and program); Joyce Kiefer, aka Luke Skywalker (who worked on refreshments and decorating); Terrie Bickel (who designed name place markers and decorations); and Krost, aka Chewbacca (who does the marketing poster, registration, program, shopping and whatever else is needed) — the event drew a whopping 115 guests to the dinner theater-style program (54 the first night alone).
The boys and their fathers (and some mothers) — some attired in clothing depicting the series of movies — entered another universe within a meeting room covered completely in black, with foil shapes and strings of lights as stars hanging from above, stationary characters R2D2 and C3PO in one corner, The Death Star looming in the distance and the “sky” full with Starfighters, Tie Fighters, X-wings, an Imperial fighter, and the Millennium Falcon.
Likewise, the entire children’s library area featured decor and action figures following the epic action and drama-filled film series on outer space, created by George Lucas. Krost said it took library staff about a week to make the transformation.
Children and their chaperones preregistered for the event so staff could provide enough table settings and refreshments including Darth Dogs (hot dogs), Yoda Soda (green Kool-Aid), Light sabers (dipped pretzel with gummy life saver to separate the handle and the blade and made by patron Lynette Miller), Wookie Star Cookies, and Chewbacca Chips (potatob chips).
The children and their respective adults talked and ate and battled with light sabers while staff bustled about catering for the exclusive event. After the meal, everyone present was treated to a program with an classic story adaptation with a Star Wars twist.
“This year Brenda Anderson and I adapted the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf’ into ‘The Three Little Jedi and Bad Darth Vader,’” said Krost. “We had one practice this year to fit costumes and to stage and rehearse the play. Let me tell you the Jedi
are sure excited to fight Darth Vader with their light sabers! No one is killed in our play; the first and second Jedi get away from Darth Vader in their Swoop bikes. At the third Jedi’s house, when Darth Vader comes down the chimney, he is sent far into the galaxy in a super-enhanced Zim rocket that the third little Jedi has put at the bottom of the chimney.”
Each night of the GNO programs patron actors were selected and used to represent the characters and in full costume carried out the drama. Austin Hammond, 11, was chosen as Monday night’s narrator and his brother Caleb, 10, got the role of Darth Vader.
Both boys admitted they didn’t “know a whole lot” about the Star Wars series but enjoyed the costumes and being involved in the short theater presentation. Yoda (Nathaniel Ladson) told Jedi Carson Miller, Jackson Gilmer and Brett Yelaska to “use the force” to defeat the evil Jedi Vader and when he came knocking, they didn’t let him in “by the light” of their “say-say-sabers.”
“The adult department helps us achieve all of this by working at the circulation desk while we have play practice or are busy decorating,” said Krost acknowledging that the entire library works toward making these programs special for their young readers. “All the staff helps by supplying decorations, props or costumes from our homes. Our decorations and props and costumes are mainly from patrons and staff.”
Family members also help out. “Brenda and my husband Rob hauled the stage (loaned from Bremen United Methodist Church) to the library, and will haul it back when the event is over,” she said. “Rob also photographs the event so attendees can purchase a photo CD if they’d like.”
She said the girls normally had all the fun and that they used the format of the tea parties for the boys event, but that regardless of their sex, all the children enjoy the programs.
“The kids love acting and wearing costumes,” she said. “The parents and grandparents love seeing their loved ones performing. It’s a win-win for all! The plays are short to fit a short attention span too.”
Isaac Nettrour, 8, attended the Monday night event with his father Chad and two of his four brothers. He said he had been to and had enjoyed attending a couple of the tea parties with his mother — and even acted in some of the other productions offered — but when asked if he liked this one better (one based on characters from the famous movie that he enjoyed) his brother Seth, 6, answered for him enthusiastically, “Oh yeah!”