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Local fans ready for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

courtesy of Chris Solecki

The members of a local fan club will be among the many in attendance for tonight's release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." "We're excited to see where they take it," said Chris Solecki of the North Ridge, the local Star Wars fan club.

"My expectations are this is going to blow everybody away. I don't think it's going to fall short of that."

Some fan club members will gather to watch the film tonight, though they won't be celebrating with their familiar flair.

"Due to some of the recent activities in the world and some things that happened in theaters, a lot of the theaters have asked to keep costumes and replica weapons at home," said Solecki, owner of an "Empire Strikes Back-Darth Vader" costume.

According to Solecki, the North Ridge began in 2002 with members seeking a chance to wear costumes and share stories. It soon became a force of its own. They receive frequent requests from organizations looking for help in promoting events.

The Buffalo Bisons could attest to their popularity. Their "Star Wars Nights" have sold out Coca Cola Field in each of the last three seasons.

"It's a space story. It's something that's full of imagination," said Solecki in explaining its popularity.

"This year, I get to take my boys for the first time, so I get to see how they experience it and see their excitement," said Solecki, who as a young child attended the original "Star Wars" in a theater with his parents.

 "It's another generation. My parents saw it. I saw it. Now, my kids get to experience it."