IT is not a typical sight for Bank Holiday bargain hunters on a day out at their local shopping centre.
But yesterday three stormtroopers were among the throng of shoppers at Silverburn shopping centre where they donned costumes to celebrate International Star Wars Day – May the fourth.
The date, chosen for a pun on the Star Wars quote “May the force be with you”, was marked around the world through a series of themed events and online activities.
Even United States space agency Nasa got in on the fun when it revealed that astronauts aboard the International Space Station had screened one of the Star Wars films.
“Just watching @starwars. In space. No big deal,” Nasa tweeted from one of its official accounts, adding the hashtag #Maythe4thBeWithYou. It added a picture of a scene including Samuel L Jackson from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
On Twitter, new symbols were created for Star Wars Day-related hashtags, such as a mini stormtrooper appearing beside any tweet which included the hashtag #StarWarsDay or #MayThe4thBeWithYou.
This year’s event has been even more high-profile than usual, as the latest instalment of the series, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is due to be released in December.
Chancellor George Osborne took the opportunity to announce that the eighth film is to be filmed at London’s Pinewood Studios. The studio is the home of the James Bond films, and the seventh instalment of the Star Wars series was also shot there.
Mr Osborne tweeted: “Pleased to announce #StarWarsVIII will be filmed here in UK @PinewoodStudios – great news for @starwars fans & our UK creative industries.”
The “May the Fourth be with you” phrase was actually first seen in a newspaper on 4 May, 1979 – the day Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister.
Just watching @starwars. In space. No big dealTweet from Nasa
The Conservative Party allegedly placed the advert, which read: “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”
Yesterday, fans worldwide, from Milan to Tokyo, staged a series of events to celebrate the franchise.
In Australia, two fans made the world’s biggest Millennium Falcon built of Lego at a Melbourne shopping centre.
Many people greeted each other with the “May the Fourth be with you” catchphrase, both in person and on social media, where the meme went viral.
Lynne Butler, marketing manager for Silverburn and Union Square in Aberdeen, where some elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire were also spotted, said: “It’s a big year for stormtroopers with the release of Star Wars: Episode VII. We are glad that we could provide some sanctuary away from the hype and help them celebrate May 4th in style.”
She added: “We hope they enjoyed their day out and look forward to welcoming them back soon. May the 4th be with you.”
An onlooker said of the stormtroopers: “They were just going about their own business and checking out the shops. It was surreal.”