Opening Ceremonies Statement

At approximately 7:50 p.m. on Friday, May 25, the Los Angeles Police Department notified staff at Star Wars Celebration IV that a suspicious package had been reported outside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The LAPD was in charge of the situation. All actions taken were at the order of the Police Department.

The decision to evacuate those still in line to attend the Opening Ceremonies was made for reasons of public safety and with the protection of those guests in mind. It was made to ensure that exits were not blocked in the event of a mass evacuation of the Opening Ceremonies, which at the time was still a possibility.

Celebration IV staff were under obligation to cooperate completely with the directives of the LAPD.

These orders were made out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of all fans in attendance, and we appreciate the swift response of the LAPD.

We also appreciate the cooperation and response of those fans affected by this police action, and deeply apologize for the inconvenience this serious situation may have caused.

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24 Responses to Opening Ceremonies Statement

  1. Brandon says:

    So now what? Those of us who had Friday day passes–what are we supposed to do? We lost out on many hours of the conference. Those of us who were forced to evacuate–is that it? Is that to be the end of Celebration IV for us? What a bitter and sour ending.

    Who can we talk to for more information? I’m not driving all the way back there just hear a crappy apology in person. What about refunds? Or compensation? Another day pass? This whole affair is really upsetting, and there seems no outlet to express this.

  2. Lynn M. says:

    I can’t imagine why you’d drive all that way just for a Friday badge. I got a 4 day there’s so much more on Sat and Sun. Why only come just for opening ceremoines? If it’s really that important come get a Sat badge and REALLY see the con. Don’t let one mishap ruin what could other wise be a fab time?

  3. Peter says:

    Seriously, Brandon, I can not believe you can write a selfish comment like that. What if the package had actually been a bomb?

    Safety precautions are there for a very real and legitimate reason – your protection.

  4. Brandon says:

    - Lynn: I’ve never been to a Star Wars conference, and didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t ready to commit the entire weekend. I heard it might sell out, so I went on Friday afraid I might not get in. I had a fun time until the evening, I might add.

    - Peter: I think you might not understand where I’m coming from. God bless the authorities for doing what they thought was in our best interest. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen, and that the solution had to be so drastic, but, as you said, if it had been real…

    Where I’m coming from was a place of very real disappointment and disillusionment. Read the comments on the “celebration” post…

    http://starwarsblog.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/beat-by-beat-opening-ceremonies/#comments

    …and you’ll find a host of others who felt the same way. The situation was not well explained and was quite upsetting to a lot of people, myself included.

    All I’m looking for is a better ending to the story. And there may be one. I spoke with a very nice man in the show office today, and it sounds like they are acknowledging the disappointment and frustration so many of us felt standing outside the doors to the auditorium, and are putting together a compensation package of some kind.

    That acknowledgement means the world to me, and that is something that, you–Lynn and Peter, didn’t offer.

  5. Sweetums says:

    Damned Mooninites.

  6. Lisa Dinkins says:

    I appreciate that what was done was out of concern for the safety of everyone involved and realize that it was not the fault of the organizers. However, unless ALL of the volunteers who were managing the line to enter the CELEBRATION

  7. Lisa Dinkins says:

    I appreciate that what was done was out of concern for the safety of everyone involved and realize that it was not the fault of the organizers. However, unless ALL of the volunteers who were managing the line to enter the CELEBRATION CEREMONIES were being kept completely in the dark, I believe we were told that those of us near the end of the line would eventually get in, that the event hadn’t started(which in fact it had)and that the slow entry was due to security checkpoints upon entry as a way of keeping the crowd from becoming unstable, as if we would be an angry mob. Some of us were unprepared for the coolness of the evening and were not able to get to our cars so had to find somewhere to wait out the experience with some modicum of comfort. I say that honesty early on would have been the best policy.

  8. Chris Markus says:

    It looks like someone at Lucas actually listened to the responses they got this morning and acted to apologize, and I think we should give them props for that, at least.

    That was a massive event all happening at once. I’m sure that the people who were ushering you in were doing the best they could, and they probably weren’t fully aware of what was happening. I didn’t feel anyone intentionally lied to me. You can’t exactly say to a group of people, “Well, there’s a bomb threat and we may evacuate,” otherwise you’re going to risk having a panic on your hands. I’m sure a few angry fans are better than a few dead fans (if it had come to having to make a mass evacuation) and I, for one, appreciate the work of the people who were making sure my family and I were safe.

    Were we told everything? No. But we were told what we needed to know at that moment, and having read that statement from Lucas, I feel good knowing that someone actually DID know what was happening and how to control it. And I have to say that it doesn’t sound like I missed much at the opening ceremonies. ;o) But, man, was today AWESOME or what? We are exhausted and tired but can’t wait to go back tomorrow!!

  9. Brandon says:

    I received a call back from the Show Office. The volunteer I talked with said the higher-ups made it abundantly clear there will be no compensation for any passholders. The evacuation was on LAPD orders, and at the end of the day, so the loss wasn’t that great, and it was in the interest of public safety.

    Still, I think toughest part for me is that, “from a certain point of view”, we were all robbed last night. Robbed by circumstance. How do you process that? When there is anger, but no one to be angry at? There must be some good Jedi mantra for that. :)

  10. Mike says:

    I saw something on a Fox11 news video in L.A. that said the convention would continue into Monday.

  11. Thrawn says:

    That’s a shame that you weren’t able to get in.

  12. Dan says:

    That’s a darn shame for those of you who were affected by this. However, unfortunate as it is, these Star Wars Celebrations have a proven history of having at least one major screw up. The only time that it wasn’t the fault of the planners was in Denver when it rained. That could have been prevented had the event been in an indoor facility, but that’s another matter altogether. CII and CIII also had their huge share of problems, with lines being majorly mishandled in terms of fairness. It severely disappoints me to see LFL and event organizers showing a severe lack of tact yet again. Yes, this could not have been foreseen, and yes, organizers must comply with LAPD. However, LFL and event organizers have an unwritten obligation to fans and ticket holders. The blatant disregard of that unspoken pact has yet again been mishandled.

  13. Dan says:

    For those interested, see this thread on the CIV thread at the tf.n boards…

    http://boards.theforce.net/fanforce_star_wars_celebration_iv/b10611/26798277/p1/?31

    From what has been said, CIV has been EXTREMELY mishandled in every single way possible.

  14. beatlequigon says:

    How did SATURDAY go folks? There was no way I could go on either Th, Fr, or Sat. I was seriously thinking of going on Sun or Mon, Im a HUGE fan, but I dont want to pay 40 + bucks for an overcrowded, poorly run event.

    Go ahead and email me personally: carrollpma@roadrunner.com.

    thanks!
    MTFBWY!

  15. Dawn says:

    At 720 the police wouldn’t let us get on our busses. Everybody official was rude(Volunteers cool). They knew what was happening before openning started. Other then that awsome…..
    So, who left their light saber or helmet laying around? Go figure a bomb looking device at a STAR WARS CONVENTION? Never…..lol

    Oh well, always error on the side of caution.

    Do we know what it turned out to be?

  16. Tony G. says:

    Hey everyone,
    I feel bad for those who were standing in line and had to be turned away. Thankfully, we were able to attend the ceremony, but oddly enough, we knew nothing of this incident until we watched it on the news this morning! I don’t know what is more disconcerting, the fact that this was happening, or that we weren’t told. In short though, by 7:45 the theatre was pretty full, so it would have been a big downer and a big disappointment for all to be turned away at that point. It truly would have been a major let-down.

    On the positive side, Dan, I have not yet had a look at those “negative” board comments, but I must say I’ve been here since Wednesday night and have had an AMAZING time. I thought everything was handled quite well – from passes, to hotel reservations, to buses, to lines, to… everything. The longest lines we’ve faced were by choice with getting autographs or coming in. But everything has been orderly, people have been wonderfully friendly and excited. Sure there may be slight disappointments, but this has not been poorly run in any way from my experience. I was quite impressed.

  17. Chris Markus says:

    Dan, I’m confused. How is a bomb scare that is called by the LAPD and handled by them the fault of LFL or organizers? I dunno, sounds like you really don’t like this event, so I can’t figure out why you came again? We had such a good time — I’m up late because I’ve just been downstairs talking with a bunch of fellow Celebrators. I’m not hearing a lot of negativity. Yeah, no one ever likes lines or likes to be told what to do (tho’ the shirts the volunteers wear say GenCon, not Lucasfilm — isn’t GenCon actually the company that organizes and operates the show as a licensee? I don’t think Lucas actually controls everything here), but come on, even at Disneyland you get long, unhappy lines, unruly guests and sometimes a bad experience. But those are few and far between, like at Celebration, and in the end the overall experience is what counts.

    I think by tomorrow we’ll have seen everything and be ready to go home, but hey, that’s three days full of exploring and wandering around and seeing great shows….and for $110, it’s a lot cheaper than three days at Disneyland!!! (And, for me, more fun, too!)

  18. Clone124 says:

    It may have been Mooninites or star trek fans

  19. Dan says:

    Chris, you are putting words in my mouth to a point.

    What was severely mishandled was the lack of information and tact supplied to attendees by CIV and GenCon “officials”. And I use that term very loosely, because I imagine that it’s hard to really make a slave force of unpaid workers really care about the herds of public they are serving.

    In the end, those who missed the opening ceremony weren’t missing much. The presentation yielded no new information or anything enjoyable whatsoever unless you enjoy stale cake. In the end, that stupid event was nothing more than a sales pitch and a eulogy combined.

  20. Safety = Evacuating EVERYONE, not just the line (including the mayor of LA).

    The “bomb” ended up being a bag of clothes says Channel 4 news.

  21. CH says:

    What I don’t get is why were the people in the hall enjoying the opening ceremonies “safe” while those of us a few feet from getting through the doors were in such danger we had to evacuate immediately. Does this make sense to you? VampireKitten and others are right.

  22. Brian says:

    So I was at the opening ceremonies…I obviously got in before they shut it down and had no idea what happened until Saturday morning while waiting for the Robot Chicken panel. Here’s the thing – the opening ceremonies are a pagent, but compared to the rest of the event (and this was the case with CII and CIII as well) they are (hate to say it) slow paced and lame.

    I know this probably doesn’t make a difference. I would have been annoyed too, but you only missed out on a piece of cake and Steve Sansweet in an Ewok costume. – Oh and the flying Fett (which was so freaking loud in a confined space you wanted to die)

    Most of the other material was derrivitive of other con material or political (USPS, LA Mayor and Council member). I, personally, thought it was the weakest event of the 5 days.

  23. Moonblow says:

    I was in the opening ceremonies. It sounds like the real excitement was outside on the street, not in the snoozefest inside.

  24. Con-Goer says:

    I have to agree with you Moonblow! The opening ceremonies were nothing at all to be excited about. I really believe that it was the most boring 3 hours of my Star Wars life….it didn’t help that the last half of it was all about reading the convention schedule to us…I figured out what I wanted to see from the schedule posted on line thank you very much!

    Aside from that…the people outside would not have know they were missing a total bust of an even and I can understand why they would be upset. The lack of information about the threat to those people was the right thing to do…there would have been plenty of people that could have gotten very scared if they knew what was going on and that would have created an even worse situation…it is just a shame that it happened at all.

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