Forget family dinners and movie nights.
The way Quincy Newkirk’s bonds with her parents while visiting her home in Lincoln Square from college is by dressing up with them as bad guys from “Star Wars.”
“Yep, we don’t go on regular family vacations, we go to ‘Star Wars’ conventions instead,” said Newkirk, 20, a junior at Davidson College in Charlotte, N.C.
Her parents Kathy van Beuningen (who dresses as a Snowtrooper and Imperial Officer) and Vince Newkirk (Grand Moff Tarkin) have been members of the Midwest Garrison of the 501st Legion since 2001, and their enthusiasm for the group rubbed off on Quincy Newkirk at an early age.
“I started making costumes for her when she was 7,” van Beuningen said. “At first it was the female characters like Queen Amidala and Princess Leia, but eventually she wanted to be a Stormtrooper like me.”
Not tall enough to qualify as a regular Stormtrooper (“otherwise you get the old ‘Aren’t you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?’ line,” ) Newkirk decided on a Biker Scout costume instead. Midwest Garrison rules specify that you have to be 18 to join, so Newkirk officially became a member on her 18th birthday--complete with her own serial number (TB-9988) and personalized trading card.
“I think secretly kids are more attracted to the Dark Side, it’s so much cooler,” she said.
Newkirk admits there was a time in her early teenage years when she went through a rebellious stage and tried to get away from her family’s costumed adventures.
“I was labeled as ‘that Star Wars girl’ and called a big nerd at times, so it was hard,” she said. “It was the classic, you have to hide yourself until you find out who you are kind of thing.”
Now, she attends Midwest Garrison events during school breaks, like a recent Polar Bear Plunge at Lincoln Park Zoo on New Year’s Day.
“All the people involved are really friendly, outgoing people, and it’s really awesome,” Newkirk said. “Plus, it kind of runs in the family, I guess.”
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.