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Sunday, July 19, 2015

I’m writing this on Saturday morning, and I can barely get a moment to myself. There is a buzz of anticipation in the Keppeler household, and I have happy small boys continually interrupting me.

“Mom, where’s my Star Wars shirt?”

On Saturday night, we attended our third Star Wars night at the ball park at Coca-Cola Field. (I started to write “Pilot.” I will probably always start to write “Pilot.”) The Buffalo Bisons faced the Columbus Clippers, but – sorry, Bisons – that wasn’t the highlight of the evening for the boys.

Jim and Sam Keppeler are dressed as Darth Vader and Yoda
for Halloween 2008. (PHOTOS BY JILL KEPPELER / 
Star Wars groups including the North Ridge of Buffalo presented character appearances, glowing lightsabers filled the ballpark, Darth Vader threw out the first pitch, John Williams’ tremendous score filled the air … and after the game, a battle between the Jedi and the Dark Side played out on field. (Ending with a fireworks display, of course.) Many of the festivities (and “Jedi robe” jerseys auctioned off) will benefit Compass House.

Even though I’m writing this in advance, I can tell you fun will be had, just like it was in 2012 and 2013, when we attended before. Star Wars is part of my boys’ lives. We always knew it would be.

They thought the Imperial March was a lullaby when they were babies.

Sam’s first Halloween costume was Yoda. His 3-year-old brother was Darth Vader the same year. Two years later, Sam wore the Vader costume, only to reprise it in a bigger size in 2013 -- the better to show off the red replica lightsaber he received as a gift for being the ring-bearer in my brother’s wedding. (He was introduced at the reception to the sound of the aforementioned Imperial March.)

Yes, this runs in the family.

Jim Keppeler hangs out with some Storm Troopers at
Stars Wars Night at Coca Cola Field in 2013.
And I’m happy to tell you that. We’re Star Wars geeks, here. (Actually, we’re many different kinds of geeks, but that’s besides the point.)

It’s Darth Vader costumes and Star Wars video games and birthday cakes and countless movie nights and more fun stuff, but sometimes it’s serious, too.

It led both boys to some of their first books. It’s led to discussions of why Anakin Skywalker turned into a bad guy. (Spoilers: “He really missed Padme,” Sam informed me. “It made him very sad, and that made him mad, too.”) And why Luke Skywalker tried to save Darth Vader, even though he was a bad guy. (“Dad, I’d try to save you, too.)

It’s part of our lives. Call us geeks. We’re happy that way.

And in December, I’m going to be able to watch a new Star Wars movie on the big screen with my son. (Jim will wait until the home release; he’s not so fond of crowded movie theaters.) I cannot tell you how happy that makes me.

And may the Force be with us all.

I’d be remiss not to mention how much work the North Ridge puts into this event. (Hours and hours of rehearsals and practice and costume work and more, all for charity.) And how very excellent the members are with children, including mine.

They are true Jedi. (Even the Sith.)

+Jill Keppeler is really looking forward to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” no matter what you say. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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