- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

A dozen Star Wars fans willing to brave the elements for their love of a movie franchise sat vigil in front of the Uptown yesterday, patiently waiting for the May 16 opening of the most recent installment.
The group of mostly twentysomethings which began its vigil last Saturday enjoyed a warm, sunny day yesterday.
Not that bad weather would have scared them off. The 12 fans are determined to be at the front of the line when "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" premieres. They expect the line to swell to about 1,500 by opening day.
But in a day when movie tickets can be bought at home with a couple of clicks on a computer, these fans unbowed by fears of being labeled "freaks" say that camping out is its own reward.
Victor Nazrian, Adrienne Polley and Caleb Patten relaxed outside the Connecticut Avenue theater yesterday, surrounded by a TV, radio, mattresses, large umbrellas and plenty of chairs.
They were separated from the rest of the sidewalk in front of a Starbucks by metal barricades. One of the parking meters functioned as a coat hook.
A few spots down the line two others in the group, Nick Johansen and Bree Rosenfelt, were resting on blankets and sleeping bags.
Barefoot, shirtless and wearing sunglasses, Mr. Johansen, who works in theater stage and light production, looked as though he were at the beach on vacation.
"It's something to do," he said. "[My girlfriend] thinks it's strange but cool. She'll be here tonight," said Mr. Johansen, 22.
Miss Polley, 37 and first in line, said she is the only one who will be spending the entire time there, since she is unemployed and most of the others have jobs or school.
Mr. Patten, 26, was only visiting. He camped out in 1999 when "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" opened, but he said he is not planning on doing so this year.
"I consider myself a moderate 'Star Wars' freak. I'm not like the guys in Seattle," he said, referring to two men who have been camping out since Jan. 1 waiting for "Episode II" to open.
Mr. Patten said he's not ashamed of being a "Star Wars" fan, adding that plenty of people are dismissive.
"It's just like anything else," he said. "Are there closet Barry Manilow fans? Yes."
Miss Polley, wearing a wristwatch with the villainous Darth Maul from "The Phantom Menace" on it, said that the movie and Darth Maul have helped her deal with trying times in her life.
"I get strength and power from [Darth Maul] that I didn't have before," said Miss Polley, who saw "The Phantom Menace" 26 times. "I use it every day so I feel like I'm not in a crazy world I can't control."
She said she paid more than $3,000 for a Darth Maul costume, which she will begin wearing as soon as it is done. She is also changing her last name to Maul.
While some in the neighborhood have complained about the litter and noise from past movie campers, Miss Polley and her friends have the support of neighboring businesses and residents.
Starbucks is donating $3 for every hour the campers are in line to a D.C. youth-development program. Starbucks also allows the campers to use its bathroom.
Ireland's Four Provinces Restaurant is providing electricity for the campers, and many people have donated food.
And the campers have provided a captive audience for some.
One homeless man comes around regularly to talk, Miss Polley said.
"Sometimes he gets into some metaphysical stuff," she said. "We just kind of blank out on him."


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