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The 501st and the Rebel Legion

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The 501st marching in Indy's 500 Festival Parade. - ELAINE BENKEN
  • Elaine Benken
  • The 501st marching in Indy's 500 Festival Parade.
We asked Matt Hoffman, Central Events Coordinator for Star Wars Indiana, to give us the skinny on the cosplay groups called the 501st and Rebel Legions. Here's what he provided:

The 501st was created in 1997 by Albin Johnson, who would wear Stormtrooper armor at comic book stores around his hometown in South Carolina with his friend Tom. They realized that while two Stormtroopers are pretty cool, a whole bunch of them would be even better, so they created a Yahoo group, and like-minded folks started to join. Now, the 501st has over 10,000 members in fifty countries around the world.

The Rebel Legion was created in response to the 501st, as Albin was interested only in the Imperial side of Star Wars costuming. An alliance of rebel costumers started organizing in 1999, and the Rebel Legion was officially formed in 2000. The Rebel Legion now has several thousand members around the world as well.

What started as two clubs who loved making and wearing Star Wars costumes at conventions and comic book stores has now evolved into organizations who bring that love of Star Wars into the community. While we still love doing our geeky events, we also appear at hospitals and charity fundraisers and libraries and everything in between.

Locally, our groups are known as Star Wars Indiana, with the local chapters of the 501st and Rebel Legion working together to bring that love of charity, costuming, and community to Indiana. We now have an event somewhere in the state almost every weekend.

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