Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Once Upon A Time in Orlando

Once Upon A Time in Orlando

Back in the 90's, a columnist wrote for the Orlando Sentinel by the name of Bob Morris. This man moved on to bigger and better things but while here organized an annual parade, which he dubbed the Queen Kumquat Sashay. He made this a parade for folks who couldn't get into any other parade.

I'll wait while you process the picture in your imaginations.

The Queen Kumquat Sashay went on to become an annual event. The parade started at 4:41pm on any given Saturday that Mr. Morris might pick through the year. Some of the “floats” were hilarious. For instance, a group of women braided their hair together to support a Styrofoam rendition of an actual ice cream float. You had to see the thing to believe the size.

An assembly of men ran the parade route wearing business suits and carrying brief cases. They chased another man wearing a cardboard rendition of an ambulance.

Another group walked the route with nonchalance in their step, wearing everyday street clothes. You had to be directly in front to read the chosen name of their group. (Are you ready?) In black magic marker was written, "Just Some Guys" (snicker).

The parade became so popular the powers that be wanted to offer a follow up to keep everyone downtown and spending. So one year, “Light Up Orlando” began after the end of the parade. A large swath of downtown streets closed to all but foot traffic, and the evening became a family night out to see the lights while various bands set up and entertained on the avenues. What a great time.

But, all good things must come to come to an end. One of the City Councilmen (who shall remain nameless) managed to get the rest of the board to vote in favor of alcohol sales at kiosks during the festivities.

The following year, being pushed and shoved by the crowd, I stepped off the walkway and observed an inebriated young man stumble toward me. He hit his knees, and emptied the contents of his stomach at my feet. Suffice it to say, I did not return.

Within five years Light Up Orlando shut down, along with the Queen Kumquat Sashay, due to the public intoxication of the participants and the subsequent crime spree. The disappointment reigned in most of the citizenry of O-town. And whom could we blame? Bob Morris? The Sashay? The powers that be? The alcohol vendors? All of the above? None of the above? We were all having a great time at the parade. Afterward, adults and children alike enjoyed a night of food, fun, and music. Then, all of it was taken away by jerks who wanted more.

Here’s the way I see the moral of the story…

Learn to recognize the fine line between bounty and excess.
You may lose the one for employing the other.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Martin Luther King's 85th Birthday

Today would have marked Martin Luther King's 85th Birthday.

Allow me to share one of my favorite quotes from the good doctor - - -

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

After reading this I can't help but wonder; what would he have to say about social media sites (and their posted comments) today?  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (A Disney Movie)

I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks today. There was a point I sat upright and laughed. No one else did. That was a little disappointing, seeing that I was in a Central Florida theater.

Here’s the thing; in one scene of the movie, there was a map of the state of Florida placed prominently on the wall of his California offices. That made me laugh. I understand and appreciate the nod to my native state; however, Mr. Disney did not choose Florida for the supplement to Disney Land until 1964. Since that was the year of the original movie's release, the scenes in Saving Mr. Banks would have taken place in '62 or '63. At that time, Disney Land California cared little for the backwater swampland that was Florida.

My mother (a third generation Floridian) told me a great story about Disney, which I could neither verify nor deny. But share it I will...

Mr. Walt Disney and his entourage were scouting locales for the second Disney Park in the mid 1960's. The story goes that Louisiana had won the distinction in every way but paper. The local hob-nob dignitaries in that state were hosting Walt and company, when it was learned that no alcohol would be served in his park. They were flabbergasted. Once the initial shock wore off, they began teasing the California millionaire incessantly. Walt changed his mind. Not about the alcohol, about the locale. It’s told he left in the middle of the night. He came to Florida, and deciding to play his cards closer to the vest, secretly started buying up swampland and mineral rights in the central region of the state.

Thank you, Louisiana.

As for Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks was superb. The ending was (How shall I put this?), a bit unbelievable. It is a Disney movie, to be sure. I will confess to having never read the actual books that featured the title character, Mary Poppins, by PL Travers. The original children's book was published in 1934, and by the time I was more than a twinkle in my daddy’s eye, the movie had been made by the Disney studios and was a smashing success.

I found most of the questions this movie left me with addressed in this single blog, Nine‘Mary Poppins’ facts ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ did not get right.

Floridians do have a love/hate relationship with Disney World. But, no one denies the genius that was Walt Disney. This movie sold him short, but at least they didn't vilify him (it is a Disney movie, in case you missed that part). After a little more research, I found the story of PL Travers' was oh-so-much more fascinating than presented. Do yourself a favor and check out the biographies of these two headstrong, incredibly driven people.

Saving Mr. Banks is a melancholy movie to be sure. Referring to it as “Based On A True Story” makes it all the more so.