Our friend Bryan from The North Ridge was nice enough to send over the following report from the Buffalo Bisons' Star Wars Night, which was written by Lawrence T. The photographs were taken by Bob Hubbard.
"The Force was very strong at the Buffalo Bisons? 4th annual STAR WARS game on June 11th, 2011.
The North Ridge, Buffalo?s FanForce chapter, abetted by the 501st?s Garrison Excelsior and the Rebel Legion?s Echo Base, hosted a near record breaking event to earn money for the Heart Association. A season high 15,000 + fans packed Coca-Cola stadium to immerse themselves in a game-wide STAR WARS experience.
It began as soon as fans entered, with numerous opportunities to pose with many of their favorite STAR WARS characters, including the first Bison?s appearance of a fully functional R2-D2 (courtesy of R2 Builder Jon Duffie). Lightsabers and T-shirts sold out, embroidered jerseys were auctioned, and even an UltraSabers lightsaber was raffled off. Vader threw out the 1st pitch (a perfect strike), pilots and Jedi delivered meals and visited boxes, and stormtroopers shadowed the baselines. Throughout the 1st half of the game, the stands were consistently empty, as the eager fans crowded the concourse for pictures and autographs.
The real adventure began around the 5th inning, as the 1st of 6 filmed episodes played on the stadium?s new HD jumbotron, launching the POWER OF THE FORCE saga, written and directed by the North Ridge?s Bryan Patrick Stoyle. Classic and new STAR WARS characters were joined by the Bisons? 3 mascots - Buster Bison, Belle the Ballpark Diva and Chip ? in a tense yet light-hearted serialized adventure. In Episode 1, as Jedi Knights and padawans arrived, The Emperor conspired with Boba Fett to kidnap the 3 mascots, but Buster Bison escaped!
The crowd went wild! After every inning, people stayed in their seats, rushed back when they heard the familiar STAR WARS fanfare, or were glued to the concourse monitors for the next thrilling chapter. In succeeding episodes, it was revealed that Chip had been frozen in carbonite (a full size prop custom built by a 6-person North Ridge team), Buster met Chewbacca, Belle escaped and joined up with Princess Leia, more Jedi had been captured, and Rebel Pilots and R2 finally found Buster and led him to Luke Skywalker for the post-game finale.
It was a long game ? no rain delays, thankfully ? but everyone stayed to see how it would all end. They were not disappointed! After the stadium lights dimmed and a brief filmed recap of the 6 chapters flickered on the jumbotron, the live action 4-act POWER OF THE FORCE saga began on field. Luke Skywalker escorted Buster to the Jedi assemblage, where Knights and padawans sparred in duels (overseen by North Ridge duel choreographer Lisa Walworth). As they left the field, the Sith forces emerged along the 2nd base line led by Assajj Ventress, while The Emperor and Vader escorted the captured Jedi, carrying the full size Chip in carbonite statue, along the 3rd baseline. After a synchronized exercise, 4 of the Sith dueled to the death, only to be resurrected by The Emperor, as he set a trap for Luke and the rest of the Jedi.
After the remaining Sith exited, leaving guards on the captives, Leia and Belle crept along the baseline. They used the Force to topple the guards, then freed the captives and, carrying Chip, tried to escape, only to be cut off by stormtroopers in front and the recovered Sith guards from behind. They were rescued by Luke and the Jedi pouring onto the field. As a battle ensued on many fronts, more Sith emerged from the corners to surround the Jedi forces. Having sprung his trap, the Emperor brought out General Grevious and ordered the final battle, duels between all the Sith and Jedi across the entire infield. Most of the Sith were defeated, but Vader, the Emperor, Grevious and a few others managed to repel the advancing Jedi and escape. Fireworks lit up the victorious night sky as the Jedi celebrated, and then everyone rose to take their bows.
Next year is already shaping up to be quite a rematch!"