by Steve Artley
was honored to be a part of the annual ToonFest
event in Walt Disney's
hometown of Marceline, Missouri last week. The two-day celebration
honors the memory of Walt Disney and the cartooning profession through activities including programs
that feature guest cartoonists. Among the other headliners brought in to
give presentations were Hilary Price, Bill Hinds, Eddie Pittman
and the dynamic
On Friday, the team spoke to over 400 high school and
college students, who were bused in from surrounding communities. Event
organizers reported that this year's attendance was a record high.
One of the highlights, is a street parade complete with strolling
performers and several bands. Guest artists are each featured as "Grand
Marshal" and ride the parade route down the original Main Street USA
(inspiration for the Disney parks' street of the same name) in the back
of classic pickups. Following the parade, the team reprises their talks
at the Marceline Community Center. Later, we were taken to Walt Disney's
boyhood farm for a ceremony at the "Dreaming Tree," where youngsters
Walt and his sister, Ruth reportedly spent many childhood hours gazing
up through the branches, to wish upon their star. With much pomp and
flair, each artist was re-introduced, brought before the assemblage and
inducted into the "Order of Plantears" (each are crowned with a hardhat
featuring Mickey ears). Young Mouseketeers led each of us to our
respective spots to plant our own "dreaming tree." A grand BBQ picnic at
the farmstead brought the event to a festive conclusion.
Throughout our entire visit, we artists were met with an abundance
of genuine welcoming warmth and charity by the good folks of Marceline.
Shortly after landing at the Washington airport, I walked through the
crowded corridors of fast-paced indifference. I was shoved aside without
apology from one of the self-absorbed pushing his way to the VIP
lounge. It took every effort to restrain myself from boarding a return
flight to Marceline with intent to seek asylum.
|Friday night was a banquet and tour of the Disney Museum.|
|Hilary Price and Bill Hinds|
|A horse-drawn wagon full of cartoonists and friends|
|The door to Walt Disney's boyhood bedroom|
ToonFest Parade: Awesome. Vehicle carrying Hilary Price along the parade route: Priceless.
During the last leg of the parade route, the classic pickup carrying Hilary Price
overheated and came to an abrupt Disneyesque halt, complete with gurgling sound FX and billowing steam. Disney animators and Foley artists couldn't have done it better. Not to be left knuckle biting and helpless at the roadside, the ever resourceful Hilary got out and pushed with assistance by a couple of onlookers.
From my vantage point of the tailgate of the vehicle ahead of Hilary, I gleefully iPhone photographed the following sequence.