Jana Olson, the Red Deer public library’s children’s program assistant, reads kids a Star Wars story at the May the Fourth Be With You event. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

WATCH: Red Deer kids gather for ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ event at public library

Locally built R2-D2 makes a guest appearance

A Luke Skywalker story and a special appearance by R2-D2 delighted a room-full of children at Red Deer’s public library on Friday.

This year’s third-annual “May the Fourth Be With You” event brought young students from G.H. Dawe School to the Snell Auditorium, as well as parents, tots and Star Wars fans from the community.

The library’s children’s program assistant, Jana Olson, said fun activities related to the George Lucas movies allow for many learning opportunities. “We work on emerging literacy, we work on numeracy, we work on arts and motor skills and all that kind of stuff,” added Olson.

Kids’ powers of imagination were tapped into as they fought with foam ‘light sabres’ and ran through a ‘laser force field’ made of ribbon streamers as part of an obstacle course.

But the star of the show was R2-D2, a robot created over three years by Kris Sturgess, as part of an international “R2 builder’s group.” Group members share information online about the custom machined parts needed and how to put these components together to create a remote-controlled Star Wars character.

Sturgess, a technician at Red Deer College’s Maker Space, has taken his R2-D2 to maker fairs, charity events and comic-cons. (He initially said he’s a “little bit” of a Star Wars fan, but later admitted his two sons are named Ben and Luke).

The best part about bringing R2-D2 out into the community, is seeing the looks on children’s faces, he said. “I love seeing the interaction with the kids when they seem him move… it’s a great thing.”

Six-year-old Oliver Craven, of Red Deer, likes the squat, beeping Star Wars character “because he’s a good guy!”

Oliver’s mom, Teri Craven, said said everything in their house is Star Wars-related, so the event presents a fantastic opportunity for her son to interact with a character he wouldn’t otherwise meet outside of Disneyland.


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A pint-sized Darth Vader stands shoulder-to-shoulder with a robotic R2-D2 at the Red Deer public library’s May the Fourth Be With You event Friday morning. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Kris Sturgess, a technician at Red Deer College’s Maker Space, took three years to build the R2-D2 robot out of custom-made parts. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

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