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SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Hopeful padawans assembled at Sgt. Yano Library, some with light sabers in hand, to receive training from the visiting jedi master, “Jedi Jim,” March 21.
This occasion was the first time the “Star Wars” Jedi training has occurred at the library.
Christina Abelardo, a librarian at the Sgt. Yano Library, said there is usually a library event planned around school breaks, to give families an activity in their free time. Abelardo said children and adults alike frequently check out “Star Wars”-themed books, so the staff believed this would be a good event.
While in Hawaii, Jim Manning, also known as Jedi Jim, performed in multiple local libraries, including the military libraries at Fort Shafter and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Schofield Barracks was his second military performance.
“Their parents are doing a great service to the country,” Manning said of military children. “Now I get to entertain them and give them a little bit of fun, too, which is great.”
He said what was cool about performing for military children is the fact that many of them may be from various places and have traveled as much as he has.
Originally from Boston, Manning is a full-time children’s entertainer for parties and other functions. A client once asked Manning for a “Star Wars”-themed performance, and Jedi Jim began. He has been performing in libraries since a librarian requested his show six years ago.
Although Manning is a fan of “Star Wars,” he said he is not as obsessed as people may believe.
“The dads will come up to me after the show and ask, ‘Can you make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs?’” Manning said. “It is always kind of funny … people sort of think that I’m like obsessed anyway.”
In addition to “Jedi Knight Training,” he also does other shows, such as “Minecraft Madness” and “Harry Potter Hogwarts Academy Training.”
Manning has performed more than 2,500 shows in the U.S., England, Australia and Ireland.
While in London, he learned the children have never heard of the phrase “criss-cross applesauce,” used to encourage sitting patiently and quietly. The equivalent phrase in London is “pretzel legs and granny hands.”
The children at Schofield Barracks laughed, cheered and eagerly raised their hands to be a volunteer for the show.
“I loved it,” said McKennah Embry, 9. “It was fun to watch.”
Embry’s family just moved here last week, and she “bugged” her mother to attend. She was one of the children recruited as a volunteer for Jedi Jim, to act as a basketball hoop.
Through performing at libraries, Manning said he encourages children to read books, making a connection between the Great Jedi Library on the Planet Ossus and “(grabbing) the energy and the power from books.”
“If they start reading ‘Star Wars’ books, it leads to other reading,” Manning said. “When the kids come to the library and they have a fun time, they (also) identify the library as a fun place.”
Caleb Benavente was indeed paging through several “Star Wars” books after the performance. He said he came to the event to see what Jedi Jim did as a jedi. The 9 year old, whose favorite “Star Wars” movie is “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” said he likes Luke Skywalker because “he’s the son of Darth Vader” and “he has really strong force.”
Benavente said the most fun part about the event was playing balloon basketball.
“He was pretty cool,” Benavente said. “(Other children should go,) so they could experience the cool stuff that I experienced.”
Caden and Ethan Laakman also attended the show. Caden Laakman was one of the show’s volunteers, brandishing a balloon light saber and dueling with Jedi Jim.
“I liked doing the duel,” Caden Laakman said. “I was doing flips and stuff. Jedi Jim was awesome.”
Ethan Laakman said he enjoyed catching multiple balloons at the very end of the show. Manning finished the show tossing balloons to the children to catch and throw back.
When Manning finishes a show, he hopes the children will walk away having learned three key points.
“No. 1, the library is a fun place to be; No. 2, to be a great jedi or be a great anything – books are the way to go; and No. 3, if we all work together as a team, we can accomplish great things,” he said.
For more details about Manning’s performances, visit www.ilovemylibrary.com.