By Jess Macy Yu
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Dozens of "Star Wars" fans dressed like Jedi knights, Galactic Empire storm troopers and other characters from the sci-fi series paraded through central Taipei on Thursday, part of a worldwide celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the film franchise.
Costume parties, movie marathons and fun runs were among the special events being staged in New York and other cities worldwide on Star Wars Day.
Countless others joined the celebration on social media, many of them tweeting "May the 4th be with you," in a play on the "Star Wars" catchphrase, "May the force be with you."
For years that catchphrase has brought "Star Wars" fans together to celebrate the franchise in private and public events on May 4, a phenomenon that has been pushed into light speed as more fans have connected over the Internet.
In Taiwan's capital, fans took the day off from work to pose in costume for photographs at landmarks such as the Taipei 101 tower and the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall.
"I liked 'Star Wars' since I was small," said Annie Tseng, a 40-year-old communications specialist dressed as archvillain Darth Vader. "I chose Darth Vader because I think he's very handsome," she said.
This year's event in Taipei featured a duel with light sabers at the Living Mall, a shopping mall with a giant orb that resembles the film's Death Star space station, organizers said.
The original "Star Wars" film, written and directed by George Lucas and starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, hit movie theaters in 1977. Since then, 11 "Star Wars" movies have been released, sparking a devoted worldwide fan base and generating billions of dollars in sales of tickets and branded merchandise.
In the United States, even the Federal Aviation Administration got in on the fun. On Twitter, the agency posted a photo of a huge Star Destroyer spaceship crashed on the surface of fictitious planet Jakku, with an FAA investigator standing next to it. "It was a very long day for the only FAA accident investigator on Jakku," the tweet said.
Other events in the United States included special "Star Wars"-themed activities at the Walt Disney Co's Disneyland amusement park in California. Disney owns the Star Wars franchise.
A student in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, caused a commotion when he showed up at his high school dressed in a storm trooper costume, prompting a frightened passerby to call authorities, pollice said.
(Additional reporting by Fabian Hamacher in Taipei and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jonathan Oatis)