DOVER, N.H. (AP) — Not so long ago in a galaxy (called Dover) far, far away…
The Dover Fire Department began its annual presentation to the city’s elementary schools with those words. This year’s presentation was a spoof on Star Wars called “Safety Wars.”
The performance at Horne Street School found the usual heroes — Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, aka “Chewie,” Princess Leia and even the droid R2-D2 — on a mission to Darth Vader’s home planet to teach him fire safety.
“If we can teach Darth Vader to be safe, we can spread the message of safety to the whole galaxy,” said Princess Leia, brought to life by Fire Inspector Rebecca Jalbert.
Predictably, Vader is too busy tightening the Empire’s grip on the galaxy to keep his home safe. Luke used the Force to remove boxes from the top of Vader’s stove, Chewbacca installed his smoke detectors properly and Leia helped the Dark Lord develop an escape plan in case of emergency.
Other safety tips included how to stop, drop and roll, call 9-1-1, never to play with matches and always to keep safety belts buckled.
“It will keep us safe if we crash into an asteroid,” Jalbert said while on the Millennium Falcon.
The performance was part of Fire Safety Week, with the fire department putting on two shows at each of Dover’s three elementary schools.
“We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years,” said Lt. Eric Anderson, who helped organize and direct the show. “It’s become quite a tradition. Everybody has a blast. The kids love it and the guys just love doing this and seeing the kids.”
Anderson said the show is a six-month effort to create the set, write the script, direct and prepare. The fire department even put together a Star Wars-themed introduction video with the help of Media Services Manager Michael Gillis.
The Horne Street School students, teachers and administrators all joined in as the cast of Safety Wars danced around the audience during several songs included in the performance.
“It’s important to keep these kids engaged and teach them core fire safety messages,” Anderson said. “A part of every department is teaching fire safety and fire prevention, and this is one of our fun ways of doing that.”
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