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Darth Vader at the Cathedral

As the nation celebrates the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Washington National Cathedral has launched a web raffle for a replica Darth Vader carving and a Gargoyle Tower Climb. The raffle winner and five guests will ascend stairs to 125 above the ground for the closest possible view of the Darth Vader carving. The prize is worth $350.

Darth Vader appears as a grotesque carving on the north, dark side of the cathedral. The carving is difficult to see, unless you’re on a tower tour. To find him from the ground:

  • Stand by the ramp entrance
  • Turn and look up at the closest tower
  • Find the two large pinnacles, or points, on the corners at the top of the tower, and a much smaller one in the center
  • Follow the center pinnacle down and find the first tiny peaked roof (gablet)
  • Darth Vader is the “bump” on the right side of the roof

Why does Vader have a place in the cathedral? In the 1980s, while the west towers were under construction, the cathedral held a design-a-carving competition for children. Word of the competition spread nationwide through National Geographic World.

The third-place winner was Christopher Rader, with his drawing of the fearful villain. The fierce head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter, carved by Patrick J. Plunkett, and placed high upon the northwest tower of the cathedral. The other winner designs were a raccoon, a girl with pigtails and braces, and a man with large teeth and an umbrella.


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