By Mason Poepperling / Staff writer

Christmas is right around the corner, with some deciding to get into the spirit early by putting up their decorations before the start of December.

This is the case of Tracy Chadwick, Computer Drafting Professor at Hutchinson Community College, who every year for the last five years has decided on a more specific set of decorations: Star Wars inflatables.

Chadwick’s elaborate display, featuring 13 inflatable characters across all eras of the Lucasfilms space-opera franchise, wasn’t always this way. Starting out with just four inflatables, his collection has slowly grown bigger, adding more inflatable decorations every year.

“I found a few inflatables and bought them and it’s escalated since then,” Chadwick said.

One might assume that the attention brought upon by these sort of decorations – especially with how passionate the Star Wars community can be at times – would turn sour, but this is simply untrue. For Chadwick, having these decorations up every year at his house at 828 W 24th Ave., has been a great experience.

“It’s all been positive so far,” Chadwick said. “I really worried in the beginning about vandalism, especially when I bought the AT-AT Walker. I think it was a couple hundred bucks. That was the most I’d ever spent on something like that. If it ever gets vandalized I’m probably done because I’ll never want to spend the kind of money that I’ve already spent. Fortunately it’s been pretty good. We had to get used to it initially because people would drive by slowly, and we’d even have people get out and take pictures, and the first time that happens it’s like ‘what the heck’s going on out there?’”

Asking a Star Wars fan their favorite anything would be difficult enough, and for Chadwick, deciding his favorite Star Wars Christmas decoration is no different. When he does have to decide, however, it all comes down to everyone’s favorite blue-and-white, trash can-shaped, foul-mouthed R2-D2 unit.

“I’m a droid lover,” Chadwick said. “R2-D2 flying the X-Wing is probably my favorite inflatable. The Stormtrooper riding the Dewback is the newest one, I like that one a lot too, but I definitely love R2 the most I think.”

If anyone is looking for new Christmas decorations to look at this year while on your way back from Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, stop by Tracy Chadwick’s house in a galaxy far far away.

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