The Italian Almanac

Star Wars trooper

Italian News - December 29

Brothers Piero and Giancarlo Bockos flew in from Verona, Italy, to Pasadena after they won judges over with a video of them marching and role playing at a theme park. They are members of the 501st Legion, an international organization of more than 3,000 people devoted to re-creating scenes from the "Star Wars" movies.

The brothers were worried that in this post-9/11 age, getting their snowtrooper and biker scout uniforms with the white helmets and plastic armor through customs might be a problem. So they informed airport officials. "We told them, 'We're here for the Rose Parade. We're stormtroopers.' They laughed," Piero said. "Customs wanted to see our helmets. One of them was a fan."

"Star Wars" isn't as popular in Italy as in the United States, so the brothers said they feel at home in Pasadena among their fellow fanatics. "The most difficult thing was telling my boss I was traveling to the U.S. to dress in a plastic costume," said Giancarlo, 30, who wore a homemade black T-shirt Thursday with the famous silhouette of a reclining naked woman popularized by truckers, but with a stormtrooper helmet on her head.

When the brothers were told by a reporter that their long hair, tattoos and menacing mustaches didn't make them look like typical "Star Wars" fans, they said "Thank you." A friend from Italy, Luca Masciulo, said being invited to march in the Rose Parade was justice for everyone who laughed at his hobby. "It's our revenge," said Masciulo, 41.

The group will march along the 5 1/2 -mile parade route alongside two "Star Wars" floats, a 176-member band from Grambling State University, eight flag bearers, eight dancers dressed as Twi'leks and a Jedi Knight drum leader. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas is the grand marshal for 2007, which marks the 30th anniversary of the first "Star Wars" film's release.