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Star Wars makes for a bright night at the Museum of Fine Arts

Tom and Mary James embraced the intergalactic dress code. [Katherine Snow  Smith / Times]
Tom and Mary James embraced the intergalactic dress code. [Katherine Snow Smith / Times]
Published Nov. 13, 2017


Museum of Fine Arts patrons toured the "Star Wars and the Power of the Costume" exhibit before it opened to the public at the "First Look Cantina" party where "intergalactic cocktail" was the suggested attire.

Erin Aebel, a member of the board of trustees, was happy to comply with a hat made just for the occasion. The fascinator featured a silver planet with a gold ring. Stars and planets were painted on the heels of her black pumps.

Tom James wore a black top hat and a pair of shiny silver specs that were a cross between goggles and glasses while his wife, Mary James, donned a shimmering cape adorned with long stemmed roses. She made it several years ago when her husband was named Mr. Sun by the Suncoasters civic organization and she decided it would work again as something from another galaxy.

Trustee Jim Gillespie got double duty out of the brightly-striped bowtie with flashing lights that he bought at the recent Poynter Institute Bowtie Ball. As his wife, Stephanie Gillespie, squeezed the tie to change the frequency of the flashing lights she said they thought it was very intergalactic.

Amy Richert, daughter of trustee Jim Richert, was visiting from California at the perfect time to take in the party and the exhibit.

"He's been talking a lot about this," she said of her father. " I was 7 years old when I saw Star Wars. Who knew then that we would be looking at the actual costumes one day? It's unbelievable."

The exhibit, which runs through April 1, is on two floors of the museum and encompasses more than 60 costumes from the Star Wars films. There's Chewbacca's hairy ensemble and Harrison Ford's iconic black vest and cream shirt. One piece several guests said they had forgotten about was the bikini worn by Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher. A photo shows the actress relaxing on the set and laughing with her stunt double wearing the identical ensemble.


Current and future leaders were celebrated at the 20th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America Greater Tampa Bay Area Council. Honorees included attorneys Raleigh "Lee" Greene and Raleigh "Billy" Greene, Sabal Trust executive vice president Susan Mittermayr and Michael Reilly, a doctor specializing in family, geriatric, sports and adolescent medicine.

Walker Willis, an Eagle Scout from Troop 219, received the William T. Hornaday Silver Conservation Award. The so-called "Olympic medal of youth in conservation" recognizes those who have made very significant contributions to conservation. Hornaday was the director of the New York Zoological Park and founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Only five Silver Hornadays are awarded nationally each year.

The Greater Tampa Bay Area Council serves nine counties including Hillsborough and Pinellas. Scouts in the council contributed more than 82,000 hours to service projects last year with an estimated value of $1.9 million.

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at Follow @Snowsmith.