Take away all the hype about the new movie, and Star Wars would still be everywhere.

The influence of the space serial has been felt in baby names, wedding ceremonies and sermons.

It energizes concert crowds and draws people to fundraisers.

“We get a huge response,” said Brian Pauley, central event coordinator of the 501st Ohio Garrison and commanding officer for the Apollo Base of the Rebel Legion, two clubs whose members make public appearances in Star Wars costumes.

“The funny thing is, I have actually seen grown adults push kids out of the way to get a picture with us.”

Conerly, Smith

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Interest in Star Wars has intensified this year as fans anticipate the Friday release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh movie in the series and the first since 2005.

But Star Wars mania has been a force in popular culture since its debut in 1977.

“I think it has a hold on many people because it follows some very traditional myth narratives about good and evil and the hope that good can triumph,” said April Casperson, a United Methodist deacon and Star Wars fan.

The movie’s mentions of the Force — a power that inspires imperfect humans to heroic acts — has parallels in the Bible, said Casperson, vice president of institutional advancement at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

Some ministers use Star Wars as a teaching tool or sermon reference, she said, because it resonates with people of many ages.

“It doesn’t necessarily belong to a specific generation.”

Chad Kirby, 37, and Elizabeth Deubell Kirby, 40, both grew up in a culture saturated in Star Wars mythology. Both became big fans of the movies.

When they were planning marriage, they would sometimes joke about having a wedding inspired by the movies.

At some point, they stopped joking.

“One day we just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to have a Star Wars wedding, aren’t we?”

At the 2012 event, held at the Ohio History Center, the future Mrs. Kirby, dressed as Princess Leia, wed Mr. Kirby, dressed as Han Solo. The ceremony basically re-enacted the triumphal final scene of the original movie, except that after awarding medals to the heroes, Mrs. Kirby married one of them.

The 200 or so guests were urged to dress for the occasion.

“On our invitation it said, ‘ Star Wars attire is encouraged but not mandatory.’ But most people really embraced it and went all out,” Mrs. Kirby said. “We had some people that were in full costume, and then we would have other people who would be wearing a nice three-piece suit and have a Darth Vader mask on.”

Mrs. Kirby, who works in financial services, said she’s never regretted the theme of the ceremony.

“To this day, when friends are getting married, they’ll say, ‘Well, it’s probably not going to be quite as cool as your wedding.’ It was great. I honestly wish we could do it again.'”

Pauley, of the Ohio Garrison group, said the organization gets constant requests to appear at weddings, baseball games, fundraisers and community events.

In several years of participating, he said, only once has he encountered someone unfamiliar with the characters. (An elderly woman saw him in his Sandtrooper uniform and asked whether he was a scuba diver.)

Such instant familiarity is part of what makes Star Wars music a crowd-pleaser, said Jaime Morales-Matos, music director of the Central Ohio Symphony.

The symphony, which plays most of its concerts at Ohio Wesleyan University, performed Star Wars music in a recent program. The first notes of the Star Wars theme, with its clashing cymbals and powerful brass, electrified the audience.

“You could hear them react,” he said. “There was an energy.”

The original movie, later retitled Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope, is 38 years old, meaning that people who saw it as children have children, if not grandchildren, of their own. And some of them bear the names of Star Wars characters.

Leia, which didn’t appear on the Social Security Administration’s list of top 1,000 names for baby girls in 1977, has climbed to reach No. 509 in 2014.

Leia Bame, born in 1980, said there’s no doubt where her name came from.

“My dad,” she said. “He was a big Star Wars fan.” He nicknamed her “princess.”

Bame, children’s ministry coordinator at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Westerville, said that as a teenager she found the attention the name attracted a bit embarrassing. Later, she grew to like it.

“It’s unique, and people don’t have trouble remembering my name.”

And, yes, she is a Star Wars fan.

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