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The force is strong in DeKalb

DeKALB – Miura Bartalone, 3, of Hinckley seemed right at home looking for prizes in the “Star Wars”-inspired “trash compactor” attraction that was set up in the conference room of the DeKalb Public Library.

“We all love ‘Star Wars,’ but Enzo is in kindergarten and he really loves ‘Star Wars,’” said Enzo and Miura’s mother, Lizz Bartalone. “His teacher sent home a photocopy of a news article because she knew he was such a fan.”

The trash compactor, inspired by a scene in “Star Wars” where Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia were almost crushed to death in a room-sized trash compactor, was one of about a dozen events in two locations at the library’s first “Star Wars” Extravaganza on Saturday, April 20.

“A lot of kids tell me ‘my mom and dad really love ‘Star Wars,’” said Darcy Tatlock, tween coordinator at the library, who organized the event with fans of all ages in mind. More than 200 children ages 3-18 signed up for passports that could be checked off at different events to be eligible for prize drawings.

Tatlock encouraged attendees to wear costumes to the event, and many did just that. Jonnie Schauer, 14, of DeKalb dressed as Boba Fett because “he is a bounty hunter and he is my favorite character.”

Tatlock and teen librarian Steven Roman were inspired to host the event after visiting a similar event at the Joliet Public Library last year. Tatlock coordinated almost 40 staff members and volunteers, including her sister and her parents, who made sure that each event ran smoothly.

Some of the most popular events at the library were lightsaber construction, a photo booth, craft projects and a demonstration put on by Northern Illinois University’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math outreach program to demonstrate some of the science that inspired the science-fiction series of movies.

The nearby Egyptian Theatre hosted costume contests for children and adults, lightsaber training, space-themed video games, temporary tattoos, demonstrations of “Star Wars” role playing games and “Star Wars” quizzes.

“They contacted us and had lots of ideas and events, but they ran out of space at the current library,” said Alex Nerad, executive director of the Egyptian Theatre. “I think this was fun for a lot of different ages, and I was impressed at the number of families that came.”

“We are all ‘Star Wars’ fanatics,” said Natasha Earl of DeKalb, who brought her 4-year-old twins, Korben and Karley, to the event. “I was this close to naming the twins Luke and Leia, but my husband wouldn’t let me.”

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