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Fans from across North America flock to Buffalo for Rolling Stones concert

Sherry Turner was a lucky woman Friday night.

She had been traveling for 14 hours from a business event in Connecticut to her home in Michigan, and she had decided to spend the night in Buffalo. She was looking for a place to stay and eventually settled on the Hyatt Regency Buffalo downtown. That was her first stroke of luck.

She had booked the last room available in the hotel, the check-in clerk told her, and all the other hotels were sure to be full, thanks in large part to the Rolling Stones concert Saturday night.

“The clerk said something like, ‘They might be closer than you’d think,’ ” Turner recalled. “I asked if they were staying here, and she just said, ‘I don’t know.’ ”

As Turner chatted with the clerk, she heard a voice from behind her.

“Hi, I’m the mayor of Buffalo, and I’d like to welcome you to our city,” the voice said.

Standing beside Mayor Byron W. Brown was Ronnie Wood, the guitarist for the Rolling Stones.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is great,’ ” Turner said. She ran to her luggage near the hotel’s entrance to grab her phone and snap a few pictures and a quick video of the legendary guitarist.

“He said, ‘You never know what’s going to happen in a given day,’ or something like that, and he was kind of laughing,” Turner said.

She didn’t take a picture with Wood, and he soon left with his entourage to find some food, Turner said, but it was an experience she’ll never forget.

“I never thought that would happen in a million years,” she said.

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Some Rolling Stones fans showed off their fandom in flamboyant fashion Saturday just before the concert.

The foursome of Rebecca Derks, 50, Julie Hill, 50, Lori Reals, 52, and Wendy Dickinson, 55, have been attending Stones shows since 1993 in handmade felt costumes featuring the band’s famous tongue-and-lips logo.

“I haven’t missed a tour since my first show, Sept. 27, 1981,” Derks said.

The New York natives brought along an old photo album of the first time they had worn the apron-like logos, which stood out like neon signs by Tailgaters Bar & Grill.

Derks said they had even been featured on Mick Jagger’s Instagram profile, though a cursory investigation by The Buffalo News was unable to verify this claim.

Dozens of gawkers stopped by the ladies’ tailgate area and asked to take a photo, and they enthusiastically obliged each time.

“I wish we were charging money for the pictures, though,” Derks said.

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One Pennsylvania man chose a more subtle way of honoring the British rock legends.

Craig Abruzzese of Allentown managed to acquire a vanity license plate reading “STONES” for his car, which was parked on the west side of Abbott Road across from Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Abruzzese had been following the Stones since the release of the band’s first compilation album, “Hot Rocks,” in 1971. He said he had seen more than 50 Rolling Stones concerts since 1989, and was just as pumped for Saturday’s as any of them.

Less enthusiastic was his daughter, Jayde Abruzzese, who was celebrating her 18th birthday. The source of her antipathy, according to her father, was probably the direct result of his own fandom: Jayde’s middle name is Jagger.

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The winners of the unofficial “largest distance traveled for Saturday’s concert who also spoke to The Buffalo News” contest were Bill and Melanie Thompson, who flew in from Vancouver, B.C.

According to Google Maps, they traveled about 2,700 miles. That drive would take more than 40 hours.

The couple said they were inspired to make the trek because they weren’t sure if they’d get another chance to see the Rolling Stones in person. Melanie had been reading Keith Richards’ autobiography and joked that he might not last much longer.

Bill had seen the band seven times before, and Saturday represented Melanie’s first opportunity.

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The Stones’ return to Ralph Wilson Stadium also meant a lot to Buffalo natives, including Patrick and Charlene Reedy. The two were tailgating outside of an RV that Patrick had driven onto the lot Friday evening.

Patrick has been a Rolling Stones fan since the band’s early days. During his earlier years, he played the drums in a garage band and learned much from the rhythmic stylings of Tony Chapman and Charlie Watts.

He said he’ll probably start air drumming during the concert, “once I get a few more beers in me,” he said, laughing.

email: cjasper@buffnews.com

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