About the Empire City Garrison

The Empire City Garrison, or ECG, is the New York division of The 501st Legion, the world’s definitive Star Wars costuming organization. One of the original garrisons in a 6,000 member organization that spans across the United States and to nearly 50 countries around the world, ECG covers all of New York City, Long Island, and the five boroughs, enforcing the Empire’s rule and spreading the magic of Star Wars through appearances at charity events supporting organizations like the Starlight Foundation, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Pinwheel Project, Walk Now For Autism, St. Vincent’s Hospital and others.

ECG’s volunteer members pride themselves on their professionalism and attention to detail in bringing to life some of the most recognizable characters in the Star Wars universe, including Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Captain Rex, Commander Cody and a veritable army of Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers.

In addition to its charity work, ECG has worked closely with corporations including Pepsi, DK Publishing, Random House, Adidas, NBC, Verizon Wireless, and Lucasfilm itself to plan and execute major promotional events like movie premieres and product launches. Empire City Garrison members have appeared on the Today Show, Fox News, Discovery Science Channel, MTV, Spike TV, G4, and have even had the honor of ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

To help spread the reach of the 501st Legion and Empire City Garrison, the Hudson Valley Squad was formed in 2013. The HVS serves the Lower Hudson Valley region and it’s directive is to promote strong friendships with local troopers, expand the 501st footprint, and partner with local charities and communities.

Hudson Valley Squad

501st Legion: Empire City Garrison - Hudson Valley Squad

Squad Leader:

Gerrit Overeem




Mid & Lower Hudson Valley Regions

Empire City Garrison - Heritage

The Empire City Garrison was formed as part of the 501st Legion back in 1999 by our founder Frank Usamanont

and first members Jon Seron, Keith Arbeeny and Carl Glanville.

In 2000 the Garrison had a membership boom, and our first Darth Vader, Kevin Zippy Zabawa, joined. Soon the ranks grew to include Hector De Larosa, Spat Oktan, Eric Negron, Caysey Hershaft, Richard Kopacz, Christian Bontigao, Drew Martin and Natalie Muehlberger.

Our original 501st Territory included New York , New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. As the Legion grew in numbers Squads and than Garrisons were formed to help organize troopers in different areas. New Garrisons included The NorthEast Remnant, Garrisons Carida, The Connecticut Garrison and Garrison Excelsior

Today the Empire City Garrison serves New York City’s 5 Boroughs as well as Long Island and the Hudson Valley. Our current squad, The Hudson Valley Squad (HVS) was formed in 2013 to help promote our charity and promotional activities in that region.

September is ECG Heritage Month!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 501st Legion?
Since 1997, the costuming organization known as the 501st Legion has spread the magic of the Star Wars genre worldwide through its authentic-looking costumes and has become the leading force in fan-based charity events. The 501st, also known as “Vader’s Fist,” is truly dedicated to brightening the lives of those less-fortunate.

Does the 501st charge for appearances?
While we do not charge a fee for appearances (public or private), we enthusiastically welcome donations made to your favorite charity in the name of the 501st Legion. If you do not have a charity of choice, we would happily provide you with a list of some of our favorite causes such as Make-a-Wish or the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation among many others.

How do I contact the 501st Legion to attend my event?
Please use the link on our Contact page..

Where did the 501st name come from?
Legion Founder Albin Johnson (TK-210) chose the name to represent our fictional unit of Imperial Stormtroopers. Author Timothy Zahn, with the approval of Lucasfilm, honored us by incorporating the name into his Star Wars novel Survivor’s Quest in 2004. Since then, the 501st name has continued to appear in official Star Wars material. See our official listing in the starwars.com Databank and read more about the origin of the 501st name here.

What can the 501st Legion do for me?
There is nothing quite like a group of Stormtroopers to bring attention to an event. Unlike individual entertainers, the 501st Legion functions as a group creating a true ambience with a wide range of professional-grade costumes and props. Our internal standards ensure a high level of professionalism in both actions and appearance to ensure your event runs smoothly. Having participated at events throughout the world for over a decade, the 501st name alone has been known to boost attendance and media attention. See photos and read some endorsements from our partners here.

Is the 501st a part of Lucasfilm or Disney?
While recognized by the inclusion of the 501st name in official Star Wars material such as books, video games and movies, the 501st is not affiliated with Lucasfilm nor do we rely on the company for bookings, event coordination, compensation, or costuming materials. The 501st Legion is a volunteer fan organization.

How can I join the 501st Legion?
Do you have a passion for Star Wars and helping others? Are you at least 18 years old? If you answered yes to these questions, then you should visit our Contact page to request further details.

Where do you get those costumes?
Our costumes are the result of careful research, fabrication and a lot of hard work. The majority of our costume components are hand built and assembled in our spare time. Given that the likenesses portrayed by these costumes are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm, it must be stressed that the 501st Legion does not provide or manufacture costumes for purchase.