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Don’t tell Mitch Clefisch’s mom, but after 40 years, maybe it’s time for him to fess up.

“The first day ‘Star Wars’ was on HBO (circa 1983), I pulled the whole, ‘I’m sick, ahem, ahem (coughs),’ and I was able to stay home from school and watch ‘Star Wars’ that day,” Clefisch admits. He adds that he binge-watched the movie, something he’d wanted to do for a long time. “I just watched like 24 hours of ‘Star Wars.’ It was the first time it was ever on HBO. Mom still thinks I was sick, so don’t tell her.”no-kids-but-star-wars-with-people-11

Sorry, the Ewok is out of the bag.

Clefisch was unable to see the movie when it had been released in the theater — he was only 4 years old at the time the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” opened. Back then, VHS didn’t exist. If you didn’t see it in the theater, you didn’t see it at all.

But he had seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” and he had felt the power of the dark side.

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“At River Hills, I saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ and it was love at first watch,” he said. “I remember coming back and telling my mom about the little green guy with the big ears, and he kept trying to steal the candy bars from the man and beating him with a cane.”

Although Clefisch was unable to see the original, he began using his imagination to re-enact the scenes instead.

“I read all of the books when there were no movies,” he remembers.

Feeding his imagination were the numerous “Star Wars” toys, many of which he still has to this day. They included the X-wing Fighter, and, of course, the damaged X-wing Fighter, which is just like the regular X-wing, except it also had a “damage” sticker attached to a wing to make it appear as if it had been hit.

Many of the toys in Clefisch’s “Star Wars” collection remain in the original packaging. That is, except the lightsabers, which proved much too tempting and left the packages decades ago. A bent saber is a testament to its usage.

“I was an only child,” he says. “So I would fight with trees — and trees always win.”

While still dating his wife, the young couple once browsed through the pricing guides and added up the merchandise values.

“We figured out there was more in ‘Star Wars’ than what our cars were worth at that point,” Clefisch laughs. “So she made me slow down when we were married.”

The collecting isn’t about the resale value, though.

“It’s more to remember my childhood than it is for any monetary values,” he says. “I could go through every box and find a favorite thing in each box. The thing that stands out the most is that every one of these items has a memory for me. And that is something that is more valuable than anything. And now I can share it with my boys.”

The new “Star Wars” movie, “Rogue One,” is in theaters this month, and you better believe that Clefisch and his boys will be there. He has passed his love of the galaxy far, far away to them as well. Each has decorated his room with “Star Wars” stuff, and sometimes he even allows them to pilfer from his collection.

“I call the Millennium Falcon,” say Lucas and Aidan in near unison. “We have some serious playing to do.” ♦


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