If you are a Jeep enthusiast and a Star Wars fanatic, then DarkSide Jeepers is going to feel like home.
It was summer of 1977, I was a 7 year old kid in Seattle, Washington. The ads for the new sci-fi film by George Lucas had appeared in the Seattle Times, and every kid in the neighborhood was talking about it. I begged my mother and step-dad to take me to the Seattle premier at Cinema 150 downtown.
It must have been close to my birthday because they both agreed to go with me. Walking down the red carpet toward the entrance doors, I was flanked on either side by Stormtroopers in full armor. I was in awe and I instantly became a Star Wars fan for life.
Fast forward 39 years, I’m in Texas (still a rabid Star Wars fan) and I’m a jeeper. I’m on Facebook one day checking out Jeep stuff and I run across this group called DarkSide Jeepers. At the time there were only about 250 people in the group, but I decided to check it out anyway. I’m glad I did.
I fell victim to my destiny, the DarkSide took hold, and instantly it felt like “home.”
DarkSide Jeepers: Origins
A long time ago on a trail far far away a great idea was born.
It was the brainchild of Chris Willis a resident of Austin, Texas. The official birthday of DarkSide Jeepers was May 4th, 2015, “Star Wars” day (May the Fourth Be With You.) Chris was out wheeling with some friends, and thought it would be a cool idea to combine two of his favorite passions.
After all, what’s not to love about Jeeps and Star Wars?
And while the creation of DarkSide Jeepers was as simple as creating a Facebook group, the friendships that have resulted from that simple idea go much deeper.
I asked Chris if DarkSide Jeepers was a club or a group or how he would describe it? Chris said, “We really feel that the word ‘family’ describes us better than the words ‘club’ or ‘group.’ We have BBQs and and random get-togethers at members homes.”
The term “family” for DarkSide Jeepers might actually be a better fit. I’ve personally been to several get-togethers and there is definitely a sense of belonging that is immediately offered to even the newest
DarkSide Jeepers: Purpose
Though DarkSide Jeepers really started out as a desire to combine the love for Jeeping and Star wars, the actual purpose of the “family” is really to just have a good time together, provide practical help to one another and to be involved in the Jeep community.
I was actually shocked when at a recent DarkSide Jeepers meet up, I had two current members tell me confidentially that they really don’t like Star Wars. Gasp! Isn’t that blasphemy?
The first thought that went through my head was, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
So I asked them, why are you part of DarkSide? Both members told me the same story. Simply that they have found something special in DarkSide Jeepers that they haven’t found in other Jeep groups that they’ve been members of.
Both of these members (who shall remain nameless non-Star Wars loving scoundrels) said that DarkSide Jeepers is just the friendliest bunch of Jeepers they’ve found. So they stuck with it and they are really glad they did.
For what it is worth, I still feel like we can bring these rebels to the DarkSide. The Force is definitely not strong with them. But nobody in DarkSide Jeepers seems to mind these rebels. The DarkSide Jeepers “family” transcends Star Wars.
DarkSide Jeepers: Membership
There are no fees or dues associated with membership in DarkSide Jeepers. Which, as of this writing, has 545 members. DarkSide Jeepers is growing at a rapid pace more than doubling in size from just a few months back.
The only requirement for membership is that you must own a Jeep.
Facebook is the main hub for communication for DarkSide, and you can request to join here on the DarkSide Jeepers Facebook Group.
Chris estimates that out of the 545 members, about 25% are actively involved in meet ups, wheeling trips, and in discussions on the Facebook group. They have merch available for members which can be requested via the Facebook group. Merch can be picked up at one of the many regular events that DarkSide Jeepers participates in.
There are only a handful of obvious things that would get you kicked out of DarkSide Jeepers. They will not tolerate personal attacks on other members, racism, sexual harassment, or excessive negativity.
However you can blow up random planets like Alderaan and still be welcomed with open arms. Gotta love the DarkSide.
DarkSide Jeepers: Activities
DarkSide Jeepers is an active group. At least once a month, often multiple times per month, they’ll schedule a wheeling trip out to Hidden Falls Adventure park. This monthly trip may or may not involve a full weekend of camping, BBQ, drinking, games, and the like.
They also have at least one monthly meet up where they just get together to hang out, typically at a restaurant or at a member’s home.
Beyond that, on the Jeep side of the house, DarkSide Jeepers holds regular install and mod parties, and they teach beginners how to wheel.
On the charitable side of the house, DarkSide Jeepers actively supports Law Enforcement Officers fund raisers including the Travis County Brown Santa event. They have also been involved in community parades, volunteered at food banks and much more.
For those who have joined DarkSide Jeepers because of their passion for Star Wars, in the past they’ve even rented out an entire movie theatre for a showing of a Star Wars marathon!
DarkSide Jeepers: Closing Thoughts
If you are looking for a Jeep family to be a part of. One that is genuinely kind, helpful, charitable, and selfless… look no further. Join the DarkSide.
To give you an idea of how friendly this group is, I was talking with Chris at a meet up. Keep in mind that it was the very first time I’d met him in person. I mentioned that I needed someone who knew what the heck they were doing to help me with a front bumper install. He said without hesitation, “Come over to my house this week, we’ll get you taken care of.”
I went over to Chris’ house three days later, several others showed up and we got that new bumper installed in a matter of minutes. Afterwards we all went out to eat together at a burger joint. They wouldn’t even let me buy their meal as a thank you.
If that experience doesn’t describe the vibe of DarkSide Jeepers, I don’t know what will.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.