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Jabba's sail barge coming to Huntington Beach

A `Star Wars'-themed relay featuring a replica of the galactic gangster's desert vessel will benefit Make-A-Wish.

July 03, 2012|By Michael Miller
  • Jorge Salazar, left, prepares a steel plate for the front area on Jabba's sail barge as mechanic Flavio Tapia is working on the float driver's area. The barge will be a part of a relay in Huntington Beach to benefit the Make-A-Wish Fountain.
Jorge Salazar, left, prepares a steel plate for the front… (TIM ESTES )

Jabba the Hutt, the bloated, slimy gangster of the"Star Wars"universe, both made and ran into plenty of trouble on the desert planet of Tatooine, his home base for crime. But he might have found Huntington Beach even more treacherous.

That's because, despite his hairy dealings within the criminal underworld, bounty hunters and Jedi Knights, he never had to deal with California Department of Transportation mandates.

His sail barge, the Khetanna, which he used for pleasure cruises and more sinister business, hovered off the ground and had no need for turn signals, headlights or compact width. And there wasn't much air traffic in the Dune Sea.

But those are precisely the issues Lenny Francoeur, senior director of the Octagon Global Events, a marketing company, is facing as he oversees the construction of a replica of the sail barge that was seen in "Return of the Jedi." The vehicle will roll by the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday as part of a "Star Wars"-themed charity relay called the Course of the Force.

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The relay, which will start Saturday in Santa Monica and end four days later in San Diego, will feature a series of runners — or walkers or joggers — who go a quarter-mile each and pass on a plastic lightsaber in the spirit of the Olympic torch. Leading the procession will be the sail barge, or at least its street-legal equivalent.

The barge — which was destroyed Luke Skywalker and company in the film after they escaped peril and killed Jabba — will be reduced from roughly 100 feet to 25 feet and outfitted with mirrors, tires and everything else needed to set it amid the other vehicles on Pacific Coast Highway.

"There's a lot more traffic in Southern California than there is on Tatooine, that's for sure," Francoeur said. "This is going to be traffic like the sail barge has never seen."

As the barge lumbers down the coast en route to the San Diego Comic-Con International, chased by runners dressed in "Star Wars" or other pop-culture attire, the event may look like a haven for fanboys and fangirls. But it has a much bigger cause attached.

Course of the Force, created by Octagon, Lucasfilm and the production company Nerdist Industries, will donate all its proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. The registration fee to walk or run a quarter-mile is $500, and despite the hefty price, nearly all the slots have sold out.

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'As much a fan as everyone'

Whack!

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