Star Wars Stormtroopers took over the crowd during a press conference at The Tech Museum on Innovation, in San Jose, Thursday, March 28, 2013.  Star Wars:
Star Wars Stormtroopers took over the crowd during a press conference at The Tech Museum on Innovation, in San Jose, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, the blockbuster exhibition featuring one of pop culture’s most enduring science-fiction franchises, opens October 19th at The Tech Museum of Innovation, marking the final stop in the exhibition’s hugely popular 20-venue international journey. (Photograph by Karen T. Borchers) ( Karen T. Borchers )

With the music of the "Imperial March" blaring from loudspeakers, Stormtroopers, lightsaber-wielding Jedi Knights and even Darth Vader faced off in front of the Tech Museum on Thursday morning, while actor Billy Dee Williams -- aka Lando Calrissian, the coolest cat in the galaxy -- sat on a nearby stage.

This seriously had to be the trippiest event of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's tenure, especially when Jedi Master/emcee "Obi-Shawn" Crosby introduced him as the mayor of San Diego. "We've got a high degree of tolerance for visitors from other galaxies," joked Reed, who some days probably wishes he was mayor of San Diego.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, left, listens to actor Billy Dee Williams talk about his roles in the Star Wars movies, during a press conference at The Tech
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, left, listens to actor Billy Dee Williams talk about his roles in the Star Wars movies, during a press conference at The Tech Museum on Innovation, in San Jose, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, the blockbuster exhibition featuring one of pop culture’s most enduring science-fiction franchises, opens October 19th at The Tech Museum of Innovation, marking the final stop in the exhibition’s hugely popular 20-venue international journey. (Photograph by Karen T. Borchers) ( Karen T. Borchers )

All the hoopla, of course, was to announce "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination," a traveling exhibition that's coming to the Tech on Oct. 19. San Jose will be the final stop for the show, which has been on tour since 2005 and features props and costumes from the blockbuster series including the Yoda, C-3PO and R2-D2. It also covers real-world topics like space travel, robotics and mechanical prosthesis. Tickets for the show, which runs through Feb. 23, 2014, are now on sale at www.thetech.org.

The crowd at the Tech politely listened to Reed, Lucasfilm rep Pablo Hidalgo and Chris DiGiorgio of Accenture (whom "Obi-Shawn" referred to as the Yoda of the Tech's board of directors), but it was Williams everyone came to see.


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"Anytime an actor can be successful in creating a character that people remember, it gives that actor longevity," said Williams, who played Lando in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." He may be 75 now and carries a cane instead of a can of Colt 45, the malt liquor he was once spokesman for, but he's still got that Billy Dee Williams charm.

Even Reed confessed to being a fan of the movie series, going back to when he and his wife, Paula, took their daughter, Kim, to see "Star Wars" at the drive-in when she was 2. The future Air Force fighter pilot slept through most of it the first time around. "I know 'Star Wars' played a part in getting her interested in the science and technology of space," Reed said.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: Things just keep getting bigger and better for Project Cornerstone, which held its 10th Asset Champions breakfast Thursday at the Santa Clara Convention Center's Mission City Ballroom. About 1,200 people attended the breakfast, which honored individuals, schools and community organizations for their efforts to create positive relationships with Santa Clara County youth.

Steve Young, the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback, served as emcee for the breakfast. Project Cornerstone, which is a program of the YMCA of Silicon Valley, honored the Mountain View/Los Altos Challenge Team with its special SPARK Award for more than 25 years of bringing together leaders from school districts, government organizations, churches and nonprofits that serve youth.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.