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'The Force Awakens' in Turlock
star wars
Young "Star Wars" fan Oliver Barnes shows off the Yoda ears he made Tuesday at the "Star Wars" themed crafts day held at the Turlock Public Library. - photo by NATALIE WINTERS/The Journal

Celebrate all things "Star Wars" at local libraries with activity stations featuring crafts based on the popular movies.
• 1 p.m. today at the Keyes Library, 4420 Maud Ave.
• 3 p.m. Thursday at the Denair Library, 4801 Kersey Rd.

The newest generation of "Stars Wars" fans gathered at the Turlock Public Library on Tuesday for a special themed arts and crafts day in expectation of the release of "Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens" on Friday.

Michelle Coxford, regional children’s librarian, was happy with the large turnout of kids and said that everyone had a good time.

Children at Tuesday's event made Yoda ears and Princess Leia hair buns out of paper, a Death Star with white crayons and glitter paint and colored a variety of "Star Wars" themed pages.

Oliver Barnes, a young "Star Wars" fan, was ecstatic to partake in the special arts and crafts day. He came to the event wearing his R2-D2 sweatshirt and proudly donned his Yoda ears. His father said they will see the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" franchise, “no doubt.”

While Turlock "Star Wars" fans still have a few days to go until they are able to see the return of Han Solo and Chewbacca after their 32-year hiatus, VIP audiences in Hollywood cheered the world premier of "The Force Awakens" on Monday.

Director J.J. Abrams' vision for the first new live-action "Star Wars" film in a decade met with wholehearted approval from many of the celebrity guests.

"I loved it," actor-director Zach Braff told The Associated Press immediately after the premiere. "I thought J.J. did an amazing job. My favorite part was just seeing the camaraderie between the veteran and the new cast members."

"The Force Awakens" mixes old-school characters, such as Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa, with a new cast that includes John Boyega, Adam Driver and the spherical droid BB-8.

Actor-comedian Patton Oswalt said "The Force Awakens" represented a return to what made him fall in love with "Star Wars" in the first place."

"It was a lot of fun," he said after watching the film inside the TCL Chinese Theatre, where "Star Wars" first premiered in 1977. "I had the same feeling as when I would watch these films as a kid."

Disney screened "The Force Awakens" simultaneously at three Hollywood venues, with the cast and crew watching the film together inside the adjacent Dolby Theatre.

"It can't be said enough — not nearly enough — that none of us would be here tonight without the miraculous creation of one man," Abrams told the crowd before the film. "George Lucas, from the bottom of my heart, and behalf of everyone involved with 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' thank you, sir."

"The Force Awakens" will be released publicly Friday, with some box-office analysts expecting it to smash sales records. "The Force Awakens" has already broken presale ticket records, and many fans are eager to see the reunion of original trilogy characters last seen in 1983's "Return of the Jedi."

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.