Wielding hundreds of red, green and blue lightsabres, students at the University of Ottawa ran into battle Thursday night. The first official lightsabre battle brought out about 200 participants to just outside the university library. The event mimicked an annual battle in New York.
Jozef Spiteri, a vice-president at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), said he met the organizers of the NYC event at the North by Northeast festival in Toronto and decided to bring the idea to Ottawa.
Spiteri’s term ends this month. He always wanted a Star Wars-themed party, so it was now or never. “I thought it was a cool closing statement,” he said.
Organizers separated participants into three groups based on the colour of their provided weapons and read out two rules: make large, predictable movements and don’t hit bodies. No Star Wars event is complete without the movies’ notorious theme music, which blasted from speakers.
Kyle Wallace, a fourth-year English student, was excited. “I’m a hardcore Star Wars fan so this has a natural appeal to me,” he said while taking a break. “It’s also a great event before exams. It’s a way to de-stress. It’s just silly fun. It brings you back to when you were a kid playing with lightsabres.”
The event lasted about an hour, during which many of the sabres marked with the SFUO logo broke. Spiteri said next time the fake weapons should be duct-taped in key places for durability.
But that didn’t stop Radi Shahrouri and a friend, who saw the event on Facebook and decided to participate. “We’re big fans of Star Wars and we’re big fans of these lights,” he said, referring to the glowing sabres. “Soon there will be exams,” he added, “so I’m letting all the stress out.”
According to Spiteri, the university administration didn’t mind. “I don’t think they realized what I was doing, to be honest,” said Spiteri. “I told them about this, and they kind of just looked at me, laughed, and let me do my thing.”
Safety ambassadors were on site in case of an accident, but the event caused no injuries.
With laughter and battle cries saturating the Star Wars theme song, students left in good spirits.
“I like that the SFUO did something for the students,” said Andrew Ikeman, in year two. “It’s not that often you get this many people having fun and goofing off.”