Imperial troopers storm Capitol to raise money

The kids didn\'t look too afraid of the stormtroopers on Sunday, and just as well -- they were helping raise money for a museum. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

WASHINGTON – Michelle Linscott, of Steubenville, Ohio, was in Washington with her sons, visiting her husband who’s stationed at Andrews Air Force Base.

They were headed for the National Cathedral on Sunday morning when they came across an Imperial Stormtrooper.

They’re all big “Star Wars” fans — her sons’ names are Ben and Luke — so they followed along.

Turns out the troopers weren’t taking over, but raising money. They were shooting a video to help out the people who hope to establish a science-fiction museum in the District.

The troopers belonged to the 501st Legion, an international “Star Wars” costuming organization. They were scheduled to prowl the Capitol until about 1 p.m., and roam the downtown area during the afternoon.

Emily Schram, of the 501st Legion, says the group does events, such as parades and charity walks. She’s been a “Star Wars” fan since she was little, and when a “clone” at a convention asked her to try on his bucket, she was hooked.

Members have to build their own kits, she says, and they have to conform to the group’s accuracy guidelines. It’s also important not to shoot kids or curse — “common-sense stuff,” she calls it.

On Sunday, she was “squiring” for the troopers — watching their backs, making sure they don’t get attacked or inadvertently run into someone with their limited line of sight.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom — also at the Capitol was R2K2, a pink version of the famous droid built in memory of the daughter of a Legion member.

The sight of stormtroopers looming around the Capitol was all part of the plan for museum director Greg Viggiano.

He’s looking to raise $160,000 through the independent fundraising site indiegogo to put a “preview museum” in place, to show people what the permanent museum would feature. So far he’s raised $28,000.

The group was hoping for 25 troopers, but fell a bit short. Viggiano said more fearsome soldiers of the Empire were still on the way.

“They’re having trouble parking.”

WTOP’s Alicia Lozano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.