'Star Wars' Symposium in Lenox brings together young readers

Saturday October 20, 2012

LENOX -- The Force was strong with more than 60 "Stars Wars" enthusiasts Friday evening at the not-so-far, far away Lenox Library.

The library played host to the statewide "Star Wars" Symposium, hosted by Scituate resident Peter Struzziero, who uses the always-prevelant "Star Wars" brand as a tool to draw youngsters -- some no taller than Ewoks -- into libraries throughout Massachusetts.

Word of Struzziero's event has spread throughout the state's librarian network, according to Debby Cuthbert, the youth librarian at Lenox Library.

"It's the kind of fiction that appeals to those who might be reluctant to read," Cuthbert said with a pair of Yoda ears firmly tied around her head. "It's a whole fantastical world that opens up the world of literacy and libraries."

Library volunteers made the "Star Wars"-themed treats like sweet and salty sabers (pretzel rods wrapped in Fruit Roll-Up); Storm Troopops (marshmallow pops); Vaderade (grape juice) and Yoda Soda (punch).

Like a Jedi to his Padawans, Struzziero guided the young attendees through a slideshow of the history of the "Star Wars" universe and trivia. Youngsters were huddled around a projection screen and their hands shot up as fast as the Millennium Falcon to answer trivia questions, displaying "Star Wars" knowledge as powerful as Yoda's.

Meanwhile, the parents that were old enough to actually remember the original trilogy in its theatrical run sat on the sidelines.

But that speaks for the franchise's power, Struzziero said, who claimed to be a "Star Wars" fanatic "since the womb." A tattoo of Obi-Wan Kenobi sits atop his left-arm tattoo sleeve of people he refers to as "wisemen." Willy Wonka and Rocky Balboa's coach, Mickey Goldmill, also appear on the sleeve.

Struzziero, a full-time librarian, has put on about 50 symposiums in about two years.

" ‘Star Wars' is timeless. It's nearly its 40th anniversary and the interest is still there," Struzziero said. "It's not just the movies that came out 35 years ago."

Struzziero's collectible action figures and books were available to fawn over, as was the Lenox Library's own extensive "Star Wars" book collection. Some played "Lego Star Wars" on the X-Box 360 that Struzziero brought.

She's not a "fanatic, just a fan," but 11-year-old Claudia Maurino's knowledge of "Star Wars" trivia was impressive. She won second place in two trivias. She even knew how to get her hair in the iconic Princess Leia style -- wrapping her hair around rolled-up socks.

"She's my favorite," Maurino said. "She's one of the only girls in the original movies that I've seen."

When it was revealed that Princess Leia has the best shooting average in the "Star Wars" galaxy, Maurino wasn't surprised.

While his children actively participated in the trivia contests, Windsor resident Randy Cormier sat back. He is old enough to remember the original movies when they were first released.

"I figured the biggest fan would be me at first, but now, it's definitely my kids," Cormier said.

The Lenox Star Wars Symposium was timely, as Struzziero's event appeared on Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's 2012 Waste Book, citing it as a waste of American tax dollars. The event, just under $400, sits on the list among multi-million ventures from companies such as NASA.

"The imagination of children isn't a waste of government funds," Struzziero said.

The event was also held in Great Barrington Friday afternoon.

To reach Adam Poulisse
or (413) 496-69214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse


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