It's a summertime tradition whose origins date back to a long time ago: the road trip. This year, residents of a galaxy far, far away are taking part in the quintessential American experience.

From August 22 to September 11, three favorite characters from the Star Wars saga will visit 11 cities throughout the U.S. Along for the cross-country ride: Chewbacca, Han Solo's faithful Wookiee co-pilot; Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith; and Wicket, the fierce-yet-cuddly Ewok. They'll meet fans, see sights and celebrate the simultaneous September 12 release of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi on DVD, from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and the LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy videogame, from LucasArts and TT Games. The DVDs are available for a limited time -- only through Dec. 31.

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The journey kicks off August 22 in Miami and ends September 10 in San Diego. During the road trip, characters will visit Niagara Falls, take in some Major League and AAA baseball, attend a Las Vegas wedding and get a glimpse of the Johnson Space Center -- among a host of activities. They also will take time out to spend time with patients in children's hospitals in many of the cities.

"We receive countless letters and e-mails from people who tell us how much they love Star Wars, and we wanted to give fans a chance to meet their favorite characters and get a unique kind of Star Wars experience," said Tom Warner, Senior Director of Marketing for Lucasfilm Ltd.

Throughout the 11-city road trip, Star Wars fans will want to keep their eyes peeled and their cameras ready: By submitting their best pictures of the characters and themselves (or family members) to, they could win a trip for four to the ultimate Star Wars event -- Celebration IV, to be held in May 2007 in Los Angeles -- or copies of the DVDs and videogame.

Scheduled cities and dates:

Miami -- Aug. 22

Louisville -- Aug. 24

Charlotte, NC -- Aug. 25

Columbus, Ohio -- Aug. 26

Portland, Ore. -- Aug. 27

Seattle -- Aug. 28

Houston -- Sept. 3

Kansas City -- Sept. 4

Buffalo, NY -- Sept. 6

Las Vegas -- Sept. 9

San Diego -- Sept. 11

Dont't forget to also check out: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi