On Dec 20th, 2011, author James Hannon helped ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ Stock Market along with his Star Wars loving geek brothers in the 501st Legion‘s Empire City Garrison, NorthEast Remnant Garrison, and the Rebel Legion. It was an event to signify the release of the EA/BioWare videogame “The Old Republic” and that Electronic Arts was changing its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange. This is the story of that day.
Well, I just woke up after taking a well-deserved nap today. You see, I had to get up at 5am this morning to be in the heart of Times Square in New York City by 7:30am – And I was shooting to be there at 7am since I didn’t want to be late, so I gave myself a half-hour putz factor. (Remind me at some future date to talk about the “putz factor” dynamic LOL)
Now, for those of you that don’t know me very well, getting up at 5am is usually reserved for something special. And today was definitely a day that it was worth getting up at 5am…
Today, I got to help ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Times Square!
Here’s what happened:
Electronic Arts was scheduled to ring the bell today to signify its changing of its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Also, along with it’s subsidiary company BioWare, it was having a HUGE release event for their videogame “The Old Republic” that came out at Midnight last night.
And EA/BioWare asked the Empire City Garrison (the NYC branch of the 501st Legion – which is the Star Wars costuming group that I belong to) to provide some Star Wars characters to the ceremony. They agreed, and graciously asked the NorthEast Remnant (The NJ branch of the 501st) if we had any folk who could show up for this mid-week and early event. Terry “Bro” Browning and I jumped at the chance since it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime troops.
People have asked me “How did you get chosen for this?” – Well the answer is simple – I had a 501st/Rebel Legion approved Star Wars costume and I was able and willing to go. The EA/BioWare/NASDAQ people would have gladly had another 5-9 costumers show up. (One day, remind me to write up a blog about how to get a a 501st/Rebel Legion approved Star Wars costume if you’re interested.)
Well, we got to the NASDAQ on time, the NASDAQ staffers brought us to our changing room (I’m kinda surprised how many people thought I drove into the city with my costume on – without the helmet of course), and once we were changed we were brought out to take some promo pictures with the staff as well as take a souvenir picture that they gave us to take home with us…
Then they lead us into the “bell ringing studio” which had a huge window to the street level of Times Square… Some more promo pictures, some impromptu interacting with the passerby outside the windows, and then we set up for the bell ringing ceremony.
At about 9:15am, we went live and the NASDAQ executive came on and introduced the president of EA Labels, Frank Gibeau – who spoke a little bit and then introduced the BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. Then NASDAQ gave EA the ceremonial “bell ringer” crystal, and at 9:30am, Frank Gibeau rang the bell and we took a few more promotional pictures..
You can see the entire televised appearance here:
The video is also on NASDAQ.com for Dec 20th, 2011, but I’ve heard
a few complaints that people had problems opening the video there.
Once the bell appearance was over, they brought us out to the center of Times Square for some more promo pictures against the NASDAQ building backdrop. Where we were surrounded…
Maybe I think too cinematically, but just picture looking down from the top of the building where you see an overhead view of people milling about slowly at any given time. When we walked out there, picture *everybody* in Times Square swarming towards us and eventually surrounding us… It was pretty damn cool…
After what felt like a million pictures out there, they had us turn around and watch our TV appearance on the full-size building length video screen above Times Square… It was wicked cool (and I REALLY don’t use that term very often) – We enjoyed our celebrity for a few more minutes and then headed back inside where we were told we were done and could leave..
We went back to the changing room,and changed… We grabbed our plastic tubs with costumes and put them in the coat check area, and went out for breakfast at the Brooklyn Diner across the street – compliments of EA/BioWare.
Ok, back to the Brooklyn Diner…. Bro and I had scrambled eggs – Bro had pancakes, and I had french fries (a diner without home fries? – the shame! To add insult to injury, the combined cost (incl tip) for both Bro & I was $60.00!!! For scrambled eggs!! I know Times Square is a huge tourist trap, but why the hell do people put up with these prices?? And the place was PACKED at 10:30am! If I were footing the bill myself, I would be outraged… The scrambled eggs were good, but not worth $30 a person! (I told my niece later that I felt like John Travolta ordering a 5-dollar milkshake in Pulp Fiction LOL)
Afterwards, we picked up our stuff, and went our separate ways home… personally when I got home, I took a nice long nap which I woke up from not too long ago…LOL
It was a great troop – The EA/BioWare/NASDAQ people really treated us right and it was a smooth troop – I was surprised how laid back it was for such a high profile event. I would definitely recommend doing this type of troop if you get the chance…
Pictures with better descriptions are at:
Now for the shameless plugs… I let you read the blog without bugging you, so indulge me on this please?
First off, I wrote a Book last year, called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. It is about the real-life exploits of the Ducky Boys gang that was so terrifying in the 1979 movie The Wanderers. They also happened to roam the Bronx neighborhood that I grew up in in the early 1960s.
Please check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or get a signed copy directly from me (Its actually cheaper thru me and you get some free bonus stuff, but I understand you like the warm & fuzzy feeling of dealing with the big stores)
Secondly, I am currently writing a new book about the really cool people I have met doing this costuming thing. There are a lot of interesting stories about how and why people got into this hobby. Many people get into it for the nerdy and fun aspect of the hobby, but there is so much more to it – For example, The 501st and Rebel Legion devotes a LOT of time and energy into helping people (especially kids) who need it – Any given weekend, there are members of our group visiting hospitals, participating in charity walks and raising money and awareness for a variety of organizations (Make A Wish, FAAN, Autism Speaks, amongst many others) – So we’re not just geeks – we’re geeks that really try to make the world a better place…
Anyway, in this new book, I am looking for interesting stories of people who costume. It could be Star Wars or Star Trek related; It could be Superhero costuming; It could be Renaissance Faire, SCA or even LARPing; it could be Historical Re-Enacting; If you put a costume on outside of Halloween, I’d love to hear your story – so please drop me a line at JamesHannon@Lantern-Media.com – you could end up immortalized in a book. But please hurry – before I finish writing it.
And the third and final advertisement… I’ve been writing this blog for a while now, and there’s a lot of variation in my topics… There’s quite a few more costuming stories, some Bronx and Ducky Boys stories, reviews of movies, and concerts that I’ve been to, and tips for writers and/or procrastinators… Take a look thru the rest of them at the main page of http://jameshannon.com/wp – I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you.
See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!