With a flourish, filmmaker George Lucas Thursday unveiled statues of his iconic Yoda and Indiana Jones characters at San Anselmo's Imagination Park, cheered on by about 500 people crammed into the small park.

Lucas donated the land for the nearly completed park at 535 San Anselmo Ave. downtown, razed an existing building to make room for it and paid for the bronze statues.

Before he pulled the white sheets from the works of art, the 40-year San Anselmo resident talked about how Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series were created "right up the street," pointing over his shoulder.

"We are here on this joyous occasion because San Anselmo has received an amazing gift from George Lucas," Connie Rodgers, president of the San Anselmo Community Foundation, told the audience. Rodgers unveiled the statues along with Lucas.

The foundation has raised about $125,000 of the $300,000 it needs for its contribution to the costs of creating and maintaining the park. The $125,000 does not include a $10,000 donation approved this month by the San Anselmo Town Council.

At the event, a grassy lawn in the park was still cordoned off awaiting some finishing touches, and the park's narrow paths and the areas surrounding the statues and the park were jammed with the hundreds of townspeople who showed up.

David Donery, San Anselmo's director of community services and assistant town manager, released 15 doves before the unveiling.

"It was fantastic," Donery said of the event.

"I've never seen so many people in downtown San Anselmo," said Annabelle Reber, who was at the event with her dog, her infant and her toddler. The San Anselmo resident said, "We're very excited that the town finally has a central gathering spot."

Lawrence Noble, the Berkeley sculptor who created the two statues, was on hand for the ceremony. The artist had never put a hand to clay before he saw Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, he said.

"I was working for Lucasfilm designing posters in 1980, when I first saw The Empire Strikes Back," Noble said in an interview. Inspired by the movie, "I went out and bought clay and sculpted Yoda. I never dreamed at the time that someday I would create a public statue of him."

The bronze Indiana Jones statue Noble created is about 6'3", he said, and the Yoda statue is about two and a half feet tall. It took him between three and five months to create the statues.

San Anselmo resident Dan Baker said, "I am happy with the park. It has now become a place for the community to meet instead of a building that never seemed to find a purpose. Our kids (saw) the statues unveiled today, and in time, they can bring their own kids here."

Contact Janis Mara via email at jmara@marinij.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/jmara.