Last weekend, R2-D2 and I participated in the 35th Anniversary celebration for B&L Auto. They just moved to a new location and wanted to celebrate as well as raise money for the local food kitchen, run by Manna Ministries Inc.
B&L is a huge local auto parts store and I used to drive by their location to and from work. Several times I had gone in looking for odds and ends for R2. One such item that was very handy was the rubber muffler hanger I cut to size and used as a shock dampener inside R2's center foot. Every time I would go in, looking for something to solve an issue inside R2, the staff would run some ideas by me. It became the norm to show off current pictures of my R2's progress on my Blackberry.
With all the media attention my R2-D2 has drawn lately, B&L wanted to invite us over to be part of the festivities for the charity fund raising. Since it was for a great cause, I agreed to bring R2 over.
To plug their big anniversary plans, they had an insert made for the local paper, about 8 pages long. They asked that the story of R2 and how we came to know B&L be a part of it, so reporter David Fitzpatrick came to my home to meet R2-D2. To say he was speechless and amazed would be a huge understatement. David took lot's of pictures and wrote a great story. You can see the flier here (see page 2 for the story on us).
So with that, you would think "Wow! That's awesome". But they didn't start there. A day or two previous, the staff asked if it was OK to mention R2's appearance on the radio ad. I gave them the nod to do so. Sure enough, I was hearing "See Paul Bussiere's R2-D2 robot" on the air on several local radio stations.
As I was leaving work a few days prior to the event, a friend called and told me I had to see the sign they had displaying in front of the store....this, among 10 or so other slides, is what they displaying...
The day before the event, they changed the sign again...
Now...on the day of the event, we got there an hour early to figure out where we would be situated, clean R2 up and go on display. The weather cooperated nicely, we had a light breeze and mid-70s for a forecast.
Once I had cleaned R2 up, we were ready to take our spot under a tent they provided.
The local country station was broadcasting live, there we numerous prizes up for raffle, tons of free food, ice cream, coffee, soda and you name it. There were motorcycles, hot rods and so much more on display. Kids and adults who have been following our adventures in the media had a chance to meet R2-D2 in person.
The event ran from 10am until 2pm and I don't think I had any real break in the action. The staff provided me with an extension cord so when R2's netbook was getting low on battery, I was able to plug in and top off the battery.
I haven't done many public events and for the most part, kids and adults were polite and careful to not touch or damage R2. There were the usual questions of cost, weight and "Where's Threepio?". From all the feedback I got from the visitors, it really hit me how much people really love R2-D2.
I had an amazing time getting the "rock star" treatment from the B&L staff. I feel like we have been adopted as unofficial employees. I can't thank the staff enough for how wonderful they treated me and R2-D2. It was also amazing to see them celebrate a special milestone in their company history by giving back to the community. Huge kudos to them!
We have a few days off now, which gives me a chance to repair a rear panel I busted off from forgetting to close it while loading. It just required some sanding and JB Weld to put back into place.