IT MAY have been overcome by the Dark Side – but revellers of all ages are leaving Cascades Shopping Centre in Portsmouth with smiles on their faces today.
It comes as Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and other Star Wars characters roam and meet fans in a bid to collect cash for charity.
The sci-fi stunt in aid of Comic Relief is a partnership between mystery fundraiser the Pompey Trooper and department store TK Maxx.
Portsmouth mum Tammy Griffiths was among the crowds there to meet the fictional favourites, as they frolicked with fans and posed for pictures.
‘We were only coming through Commercial Road because my son Blake had swimming lessons, so it was surprise to see them,’ the 44-year-old said.
‘It’s a great way of raising money because the kids notice it, so everyone’s going to flock to them – and when the kids notice them the parents have to as well.’
Dad Kevin Hunt, from Portsmouth, scored a snap with the characters after they went outside to pay a visit to staff and customers in Debenham’s and Lloyds Bank.
Out with his family, the 42-year-old said: ‘I’ve been a Star Wars fan since it came out when I was about six or seven, I love it.
‘It’s great to see the people in costumes are turning their visit into something positive and doing some good for charity along the way.’
Costume-clad good Samaritan, the Pompey Trooper – who wishes to remain anonymous – hailed the interest in his cause ‘absolutely amazing’.
‘We’re part of a larger group called the Imperial Outlanders,’ he said.
‘We get together as much as possible to raise money for charities across the UK and, from a personal point of view, it’s going from strength to strength and we’re getting so much support.
‘People inside and outside Cascades have loved it today and that’s great news.’
In a galaxy not so far away, near Next and Starbucks, shoppers were also treated to fun and games in the centre’s first Cascades Carnival.
After spending cash at the centre, revellers were invited to brandish their receipts and have a crack at a series of fairground-inspired games – with a chance to win a host of goodies.
After a trip to Warren James, 27-year-old Gemma White from Portsmouth, watched on as her six-year-old daughter Chloe won sweets and a portable game.
‘It’s great fun for the kids and Chloe enjoyed having a go on the wrecking ball,’ she said.
‘We go shopping as a family quite often and it’s quality time spent together that you don’t get if you shop online.’