“It’s probably the biggest stage any pop-culture event like this has ever had,” says Este Meza, Lucasfilm’s Senior Event Manager. It’s Sunday morning at Star Wars Celebration, which can only mean another massive arena panel is nearly ready to begin.
Este is at the heart of the Celebration team and among the event’s key organizers. Over a year of planning has come together during five jam-packed days in Chicago.
65,000 Star Wars fans have descended on the convention center at McCormick Place. Just over 7,000 of those attendees will fill the Wintrust Arena – the event’s biggest stage – for a panel about the upcoming Disney+ series, The Mandalorian.
On this particular morning, a snowstorm has blown into Chicago. Este and the multiple teams from Lucasfilm, Disney, ReedPOP, and the hosting venue are rushing to get the fans inside as quickly as possible.
During a major panel like this, Este roams the arena floor, fielding questions and ensuring that fans and staff are safe and happy. Though the preceding months have involved intense planning, he stays ready for the inevitable changes that will come.
“The doors aren’t open yet,” says Este, “so it’s not reality.” In his role, it’s all about being ready for “when reality hits the plan.”