McALLEN — Adrian Salinas, 36, learned English by watching “Star Wars.”
At 3-years-old, his family immigrated to McAllen from Monterrey, where he was born. He and his older brother — who was 5 at the time — did not know English when they moved here. But he remembers learning the language by watching the Star Wars movies together.
Now, Salinas is sharing his admiration for the series with his 6-year-old son, who is also named Adrian.
In light of Star Wars Day, which is celebrated on May 4 as a reference to the famed line, “may the force be with you” from “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope,” Adrian was one of the many children at Kaboom Comics on Saturday morning learning how to build a lightsaber.
Salinas, an OBGYN at Renaissance Women’s Healthcare, said that commemorating Star Wars Day is a tradition for him, and hopes his son will cherish as well.
“It is a celebration, it really is a neat thing,” Salinas said, while assisting Adrian wrap silver duct tape around the end of a red foam pool noodle to make his lightsaber’s handgrip. “I get to hang out with my son and do Star Wars stuff, which is really cool.”
At the back of the store, beyond the selections of comic books displayed on the building’s walls and in boxes at the center of the room, Ramsey Ramirez was teaching children how to make their own lightsaber.
The room was divided. Some children opted for a blue or green lightsaber, indicating their pledge to the Jedi, while others were eager to receive red materials, revealing their commitment to the Sith, the “dark side.”
Cannon Cavazos, an eighth grader at Sharyland North Junior High School, was making a red lightsaber.
Cavazos said he has many lightsabers at home, and that most of them are blue and green. Today he was curious about how it was like on the other side.
“I am usually a Jedi, but today I wanted to switch it up,” Cavazos said, who added that he also has a First Order Stormtrooper Nerf Blaster at home.
Cavazos can’t count how many times he has watched the Star Wars movies, but knows knows that his favorite characters are Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. His favorite movie of the Star Wars series is “The Empire Strikes Back,” which came out in 1980.
Anna Olivares, 24, was sporting a shirt of that movie, and was one of the employees managing a table covered with stacks of comic books that attendees were welcomed to take home.
This year, Star Wars Day landed on Free Comic Book Day, which is annually celebrated on the first Saturday of May. Everyone was able to take home five comic books of their choice for free.
Olivarez works at Anime Book, a sister store of Kaboom Comics, but was here on Saturday for the eventful day.
She grew up watching Star Wars and said that it was the first “geek fandom” her father introduced her to. Since then, her affinity for comics has only grown.
Olivarez said she values Star Wars because it is a series that all generations could admire.
“Every single generation of nerds has been able to celebrate Star Wars in their own way,” Olivarez said, who is studying American Sign Language at South Texas College. “My parents were able to watch the movies in theaters; for my generation, the prequels came out in the early 2000’s and now my niece can enjoy the movies coming out.
“It’s like everyone has a Star Wars story.”
Though the day reignites the fandom of Star War enthusiast, this year’s celebration of Star Wars Day was followed with grief. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, died on Tuesday. He was 74.
“I feel like this to happen right before Star Wars Day is an added factor to how sad of a passing his death is, but he will always be remembered for how he executed his amazing role,” Olivarez said. “His Chewbacca was timeless and he brought that role to life.