May the Force be with him
Gloucester Township, New Jersey
08 December 2004 14:04
Not so long ago in a galaxy 8km southeast of Philadelphia, Mike Degirolamo had a plan to build a large model of a vehicle from the Star Wars movies. But the authority in his sector sought to suppress it.
The plan was to build a six metre by three-and-a-half metre model of a Jawa Sandcrawler, a relatively obscure icon from the original Star Wars film, before the next installment of the saga Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the
Sith opens in May.
To get the project done, he doesn't need the Force, but rather the power to persuade the township council it's a worthy project.
The council is planning a special meeting to discuss whether Degirolamo will be allowed to erect the ode to the movies he loves on the property of a local business, Mulch Express. The business said Degirolamo could build there after his landlord said he couldn't do it at his home.
There are two concerns about the proposed meeting of the fantasy and real worlds, township community development director Ed Sayers told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill for Tuesday's newspapers.
First, Mulch Express is in a historic redevelopment area where the Sandcrawler might not fit in architecturally.
Also, it could be a liability.
"This is certainly one of those gray areas," Sayer told the newspaper. "This could wind up being an attractive nuisance and a safety concern if kids try to climb on it."
Degirolamo (38) a truck driver, is also an aspiring horror screenwriter who goes by the name "Michael Fright."
Seven years ago, the Star Wars fanatic became so frustrated that official Star Wars vehicles were not built to the same scale as the action figures that he started making models himself. His collection dominates his family's living room and he estimates he's seen the first movie as many as 1 000 times.
Perhaps his greatest achievement is the ten-and-a-half metre model of a different sci-fi ship for the opening of the last Star Wars installment in 2002.
That massive model was assembled in Degirolamo's yard. After neighbours complained and inspectors showed up, he had to put up a fence.
"I think they're closed-minded," Degirolamo, the father of six children, said of official naysayers. "I'd like to change their minds." - Sapa-AP