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Jabba the Hutt’s barge to cruise PCH for 'Star Wars' relay

July 5, 2012 |  9:47 am

Crews build a replica of Jabba the Hutt's sail barge Khetanna
"Star Wars" fans from Santa Monica to San Diego might catch a glimpse of some familiar characters during a four-day charity Course of the Force relay.

The relay starts Saturday in Santa Monica and ends four days later in San Diego and features a series of runners –- or walkers or joggers -- who go a quarter-mile each and pass a plastic lightsaber in the spirit of the Olympic torch.

The procession will be led by a replica of Jabba the Hutt's sail barge, the Khetanna.

Lenny Francoeur, senior director of the Octagon Global Events, a marketing company, is overseeing construction of the vehicle, which was destroyed by Luke Skywalker and company in the film after they escaped peril and killed Jabba. It will be reduced from roughly 100 feet to 25 feet and outfitted with mirrors, tires and everything else needed to set it amid the other vehicles on Pacific Coast Highway, the Huntington Beach Independent reported.

"There's a lot more traffic in Southern California than there is on Tatooine, that's for sure," Francoeur said. "This is going to be traffic like the sail barge has never seen."

As the barge lumbers down the coast en route to the San Diego Comic-Con International, chased by runners dressed in "Star Wars" or other pop-culture attire, the event may look like a haven for fanboys and fangirls. But it has a much bigger cause attached.

Course of the Force, created by Octagon, Lucasfilm and the production company Nerdist Industries, will donate all its proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. The registration fee to walk or run a quarter-mile is $500, and despite the hefty price, nearly all the slots have sold out.

Fiesta Parade Floats, an Irwindale-based company that builds floats for the Rose Parade each year, is building the barge from scratch.

President Tim Estes, who founded the company in 1988, said the sail barge can travel up to about 40 mph, but will probably roll at about one-tenth that speed during the course to allow the torch-bearers to keep up.

In between days of the relay, the caravan, which includes the barge and two RVs, will stop for the night at hotels. Adam Harris, marketing and communications director for Octagon, expects at least a few gawkers in every parking lot.

"I guess it would be the equivalent of the Batmobile parking outside a hotel," he said. "It's going to get some eyes."

The caravan is scheduled to stop at the Huntington Beach Pier at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Starting at 4, the pier will host a five-hour, pop-culture festival, with food, vendors, people in "Star Wars" costumes and live music in the evening.

When the barge reaches San Diego, it will park outside Comic-Con with a life-size foam Jabba on top, courtesy of Lucasfilm.


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-- Michael Miller, Times Community News

Photo: Jorge Salazar, front, prepares a steel plate for the front area on Jabba's sail barge as mechanic Flavio Tapia is working on the float driver's area. Credit: Tim Estes