On Saturday 3rd June in Civic Square, Wellington, New Zealand, the greatest number of Princess
Leias in history will assemble to set a new world record.
At least that's what will happen if the event's organisers, Pukerua Bay couple Nikky and Chris
Winchester can turn their bizarre vision into reality.
"We want Leias of all genders and none, baby Leias, elderly Leias, juggling Leias,
steampunk Leias, burlesque Leias, bearded Leias, Leias with wheelchairs, Leias on stilts,
and Leias with ukuleles!" says Nikky (44). "Size, shape, age, colour, sexuality, nationality -
the more diverse the better. There may even be a prize for the Best Bloke In A Gold Bikini.
Now, that has to be worth seeing!"
The Winchesters intend to make a massively participative visual record of the event too, so will be
encouraging all attendees to bring their phones and cameras, take lots of photos and video, and be
prepared to share them with the world. Some of the shots may be used in a tribute music video
later in the year.
"We might put out a Star Wars song for Christmas," adds Nikky.
Nikky and her husband Chris (also 44) moved to New Zealand from the UK eight years ago with
their daughter Megan (11), and have been involved in a string of creative geek projects ever since
they landed background roles in Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies. Chris's first music video, a Hobbit
parody called Who the 'ell is Tauriel?, which Nikky produced, clocked up forty thousand views on
YouTube and set the tone for a run of creative silliness. "Somebody compared us to the Bonzo
Dog Doo-Dah Band on one occasion," mentions Chris, "which was a great honour. We are
Chris recently donned full Princess Leia garb to meet the public at Wellington's CubaDupa street
festival and prepare a series of publicity videos to help with fundraising.
"There was a real buzz from the people I talked with." says Chris. "Everyone was keen to get
involved and dress up. Especially the blokes! But I suppose it's not every day you bump
into a middle-aged Princess Leia with a beard, so they might just have been caught off
The videos can now be seen YouTube and the team have set up an online crowdfunding page to
raise the money they need to host the event.
"It's surprising how much these things cost to put together," says Nikky. "Just the insurance
alone is more than a thousand dollars, and then there are costs for staging and technical
equipment. We stripped the budget down as tightly as we could, and even allowing for
everyone giving their time for free and a big chunk of tech sponsorship from NITROfilm we
still need fan backing to get the day off the ground."
At least any potential donors have the reassurance that if the base target of $5,000 doesn't get hit
by the end of May 4th they'll get all their money back.
"The Boosted fundraising platform we're using is great," adds Nikky. "It's run by the Arts
Foundation, and they make sure that everything's above board. Plus in most cases, by
supporting us through Boosted, NZ donors can claim a 33% tax credit from Inland Revenue
—which is pretty darn awesome."
If all goes to plan, they need six hundred Leias to ensure they set a world record. It seems they've
been doing their research.
"The current Guinness World Record for the 'largest gathering of people dressed as
princesses' stands at 341, and was set in the UK in 2014." explains Chris. "Then a
subsequent unofficial record of 537 was set in December 2015, also in the UK. Our target is
to beat both, and establish a new record for the largest gathering of people dressed as the
SAME princess. And to bring the record to New Zealand!"
"But," adds Nikky, "it can only be officially ratified by Guinness World Records if we reach
our ultimate goal of seven thousand dollars, as there are fees to pay and we need to provide
a lot of evidence. We'll have to keep cameras on the registration desk at all times and have
one independent judge per fifty Leias to sign it off—it's quite an undertaking."
While Nikky is hard at work organising the logistics for the day and managing the event's growing
Facebook community, Chris has his hands full with other projects.
"Assuming we get the funds we need, May is going to be one of our maddest months ever,"
admits Chris. "Our spoof Middle-Earth-Beatles music video Rescued By Eagles is due to be
released on YouTube on June 1st, which is the 50th anniversary of the Sgt Pepper album
but just two days before NZ Leia Day... so there's not going to be much room to breathe!"
But what do Disney make of all this? Is it all official?
"Well, in the true spirit of Leia, we're something of a rebellion," says Chris. "But as we're not
making any profit, and if there are excess funds they'll be gifted to charities close to Carrie
Fisher's heart, I very much hope the corporation don't shut us down! We want to celebrate
all that's great about Star Wars, and even though we've lost Carrie, as fans we love that
Disney are keeping the dream alive. We want to do our bit too."
As the NZ Princess Leia Day Facebook page puts it:
"Prepare... Do the Hair... Be There... Be Leia!"
What more is there to say?
The fundraiser page is here. Please help them out as much as possible. It's for a good cause. Charities will benefit from this event including International Bipolar Foundation and the NZ Mental Health Foundation.
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