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New York Jedi to Use The Force at Halloween Parade

By Mathew Katz | October 27, 2011 6:57am

HELL'S KITCHEN — The Force is with them, especially on Halloween.

For the seventh year in a row, a group of lightsaber-wielding, Force-powered, costumed Jedi Knights will engage in epic battles for the fate of the universe — at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.

The New York Jedi got their start there in 2004, when their Grandmaster, Flynn, decided to hit the streets of the parade with some friends to perform choreographed fights from the "Star Wars" movies.

"Literally, every 30 feet people were like 'who are you guys? I want to join,'" the 41-year-old Flynn said.

Now dozens of Jedi meet twice a week at the Dance Art New York Studios at 305 W. 38th St. to train in the way of the Jedi — or at least learn to fight like one.

"We actually teach you practical stage moves on how to really use the laser sword," Flynn said. "It's part fitness and part choreography."

The 'lightsabers' are long, polycarbonate tubes with weighted hilts, which can light up and glow in bright neon colors. Some of the sabers, which can cost up to $650, even make sound effects when they slash and parry. Others can play "Star Wars'" iconic theme music at the push of a button.

The Jedi have gone beyond the movies themselves, creating their own fight choreography and even creating their own characters and mythology. They don't strictly stick to the "Star Wars" mythos: Flynn's character, Talek, is a saber-wielding creature from the "Predator" films.

Tyler Welsek, 21, has been training with the Jedi for two and a half years and plays a Jedi thief character named Jace Enndo. For him, the acting and fighting is nice, but what's really important is the community.

"I enjoy the community, the people, the friends," he said. "Meeting new people. Hanging out. That's what it's about."

For their seventh Halloween parade, the Jedi are planning their biggest series of fights ever, and were practicing their choreography on Tuesday night.

"Every chance we get when there's a pause in the parade, we'll stop and fight," Flynn said. "It's been a long seven years."

The New York Halloween Parade kicks off at 7 p.m. on Mon. Oct. 31 at Sixth Avenue and Spring Street and travels north to W. 16th Street.