It would be difficult to add anything new to the heartfelt tributes for Carrie Fisher following her death on 27 December 2016, which was followed a day later by her mother, Debbie Reynolds. For so many of us, she was Princess Leia, a fierce, strong-willed, intelligent, witty, and compassionate rebel leader. But there is wisdom in the old cliche that actions can speak louder than words. While visiting family in Phoenix over the holidays, I saw that there was going to be a lightsaber memorial walk for Ms. Fisher at Tempe Beach Park on 30 December 2016. I was happy for the opportunity to take some photos and participate in a tribute to a life well lived.
I vaguely remember seeing Star Wars: A New Hope when it first came out. I was hooked. I think it is fairly common for actors who achieve an enormous amount of success with a recurring role to later distance themselves from that role. It is understandable to not want to be typecast. The problem is when actors rail against the role so strongly or disparagingly that they sound like they are judging the fans. I never heard Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, or Mark Hamill do that, even though there must have been plenty of times when they were sick and tired of being identified as Leia, Han, and Luke. I appreciated that they all returned for The Force Awakens. I hope Ms. Fisher was able to see Rogue One, it was fantastic.
I largely lost track of her after Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally. I’ve enjoyed reading the tributes and learning how she was so much more than that for a lot of people, especially for those dealing with mental health issues and for people determined to live a life they wanted, not one imposed on them. I will do some catching up by watching Wishful Drinking and Bright Lights.
Crowds are always hard to estimate, but there were hundreds of people there, perhaps over a thousand. Almost everyone was carrying a lightsaber, and many were in Star Wars attire.