Star Wars packs the Gerold
Fundraiser for Ukraine rescue work
By James Card
Not so long ago in a small town not so far away, a Mandalorian bounty hunter swayed her hips to the music and Jedi Rey Skywalker danced with her quarterstaff in the ballroom of the Gerold Opera House.
The band Djinn Ghost was on stage and they sang Don McLean’s song “American Pie” with Star Wars lyrics: “Bye, bye this here Anakin guy/Maybe Vader someday later now he’s just a small fry/he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye, singing/Soon I’m going to be a Jedi, soon I’m going to be a Jedi.”
May 4 is an informal commemorative day to celebrate Star Wars. It is a play on words: May the Fourth (force) be with you and it was just as good of a day as any to raise funds for civilian rescue efforts in the Ukraine.
Wega Arts organized the May the Fourth Be with Ukraine event and guests were entertained by music from Djinn Ghost and Baba Ghanooj. People were encouraged to wear Star Wars costumes and an appearance was made by the Mando Mercs Costume Club.
Food was available, along with a full bar and guests could get shots of Yoda Soda (lime vodka).
There was an art auction with items donated from local artists, including a replica light saber and laser gun blaster.
The most eye-catching item was a wall-sized sculpture of Vladimir Putin frozen in carbonite that resembled Han Solo’s suspended animation in the substance. Dean Johnson 3D printed the hands and face and Vinnie Lewondski and John Laedke assembled and painted it. The opening bid for it was $750.
“Who else in the world has Putin in carbonite?” said Johnson.
Artist Yuliya Bay was there and her illustrations were on display and for sale. Her brother and father were in Ukraine. Her brother, Alex Sandoz, is also an artist and makes jewelry out of amber and ebony and his work was available.
The city of Odessa was recently bombed and Bay’s mother showed a video clip sent to her of the explosions in the night.
Lalla returning to Ukraine
Michael Lalla of Weyauwega spent June through November 2022 in the Ukraine doing volunteer search and rescue work near the frontlines. He plans to head back in early June to purchase a vehicle and drive it to Donbas and get his team back in action.
Vehicles, especially the tires, take an enormous beating. The vehicle will be an OPEL Frontera, a Honda Passport or an Isuzu Rodeo. “It is the most used vehicle on the front because the durability and availability of parts,” said Lalla.
He described the area where he operated as much like Weyauwega.
“Little rivers, little hills, lakes, industry and small towns. It’s all the same people. Everyone is having beers and fishing. It’s the exact same people, they just speak Ukrainian,” said Lalla.
There was an intermission in the music and the guests were presented with a short documentary of footage from Lalla’s time in Ukraine. Afterwards, Lalla took the stage for a lengthy question and answer session.
All funds raised during the evening were donated to the nonprofit group Mothers for Ukraine.
Dancing and Ed Gein
The next event at the Gerold Opera House is the Spring Dance set for 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 13. Last of the Big Bands from Green Bay will be back playing big-band tunes.
On Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. is the 13th anniversary screening of the cult classic film, “Ed Gein, the Musical.” This is also a celebration of the national DVD release of the film.
It stars Waupaca-born actor Dan Davies and it was filmed in Fremont, Omro, Neenah and Appleton. The event will have a 30-minute live music performance by the film’s music director Will Keizer.
Dan Davies will also be in attendance and there will be a question and answer session. There will be autographed merchandise and movie prop giveaways.