Star Wars fans took to the Strand along Santa Monica and onto Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday afternoon as part of the first-ever "Course of the Force" lightsaber relay race to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The race—which began at the Santa Monica Pier and headed through Venice, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach before ending Saturday evening at the Redondo Beach Pier, then started again Sunday morning at the Redondo Beach Pier—is scheduled to end at Comic-Con in San Diego on Wednesday.
Escorted by a replica of Jabba the Hut's pleasure sail barge, a Course of the Force tour bus, and members of the California Highway Patrol, each participant carried a lightsaber for a quarter-mile and donated $500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Among the participants was 4 1/2-year-old Culver City resident Elijah Herman, who has been battling leukemia since December 2010. ( and .
Elijah held the torch high as he raced from the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach down to the local pier. Joining him were Pat Noonan and Bill Gaudette—both members of the L.A. Galaxy soccer team h—as well as Elijah's father, Brad Herman.
"It was a great day, and we're hoping [Elijah] had as much fun as we did," Gaudette told Patch.
Elijah—who told everyone he was the "king of fast"—was decked out in a homemade R2D2 costume, and at the end of Saturday's relay, he deposited the lightsaber into a special holder attached to a replica of R2D2.
"It is like an Olympic torch relay, but instead of a torch, we use a lightsaber," last week. "Our event is a Star Wars tribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It's a lead-up to the convention—it's the yellow brick road to Comic-Con."
On Sunday, the relay left from the Redondo Beach Pier at 7 a.m. and continued to the Huntington Beach Pier in Orange County, where organizers held a "Conival" (celebration) in honor of the event.
Another Conival will be held Monday at 4 p.m. at the Oceanside Pier. The relay will resume Tuesday at the Oceanside Pier. For more schedule details, visit the official website.
According to a Make-A-Wish Foundation representative, the organization hopes to raise enough money to grant 1,000 wishes.