From now on when I hear the term “Block Party” I will forever think of Fred Block and MagicMeets 2007.
When attempting to recap all that happened last weekend I find myself groping for a starting point.
I need to start somewhere so let me try by recalling some memories that will stand out forever.
A lot of my memories involve the setting up and breaking down of the ballroom. This activity took place Thursday and Friday and of course Saturday evening.
A Surreal Moment
One of my most treasured times took place late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
Fred Block, Lou Mongello, and I had finally gotten to the point where we could concentrate on our presentations and we decided to do a dry run in one of the breakout sessions.
We had gone through a day of getting the ballroom up and ready and had put out little “fires” all day long. 99% of those problems were finally behind us which allowed us to sit back and make sure we were ready with our own words.
So we went through our talks and as expected we were filled with emotions and excitement. We finished up at 1:30 A.M.
We made our way over to the ballroom where we found Mike Newell from the WDWTODAY podcast team working on a problem, a problem he wanted to take care of before leaving for the night.
Mike had turned off all the ballroom perimeter lights and had dimmed the recessed lighting in the ceiling.
I did not have a camera with me, otherwise I could have captured or at least tried to capture the surreal atmosphere…the posters on the walls…all the sponsor tables set up and ready to greet the attendees, all 52 tables carefully arranged with tablecloths, Mickey confetti, statues, ornaments, and balloons, and of course the Dream Team Silent Auction tables…beautifully set up…everything looked pristine…everything looking magical.
I'll remember that moment for a long time.
Of course more memories would be made later that day. It was Saturday already and MagicMeets was only a few hours away.
Fred Block opened the festivities and reviewed how the day would go. After a few words, some acknowledgements and other important announcements we were off.
I was honored and privileged to begin the day by addressing the 520 people in that wonderfully decorated ballroom.
My talk was entitled, “Why We Do What We Do” and it focused on the roots of Disney Magic.
I had employed the services of Joe and Cassie Hummel of Staten Island, NY to help me during my talk and they were the perfect Dad and Daughter combo I needed to make some points and perform a little Disney Magic.
The audience was wonderful and gracious and I will always remember one part of my talk in which the entire ballroom seemed frozen and focused on my words.
During my talk I saw smiles, heard laughter, and noticed tears. These were all signs that we were all in the midst of a very special time…a time of Disney Magic.
During the course of the day the attendees got to meet and greet with the sponsors and spend time talking Disney. It's a very special time for everyone and a chance to “visit” with friends.
The WDWTODAY podcast crew was podcasting live most of the day, had a live chat going, and even had a webcam setup so even our friend Masayo from Japan could see and hear what was going on in the ballroom.
There were times when we got silly and when you think of how serious our lives can get you wonder why we don't give ourselves even more opportunities for silliness. There is a lesson to be learned here.
Another highlight for me was a breakout session led by Becky King, a former WDW cast member who discussed what it's like to be a cast member and who talked about many jobs and “roles” she experienced while at WDW. At the end of her presentation her father Dennis, showing much pride, was wiping some very salty tears from his eyes. Pretty cool.
Another moment I will never forget is going back into the ballroom after Becky King's presentation. I walked over to the Silent Auction area as Fred was doing more prize giveaways.
I saw the total money raised…$9K and grabbed Pat and started crying. Amidst all that was given the attendees during this special day they had turned around and had given back. I was so moved.
I was also moved by so many people who came to this event, to share with friends their celebration of fantasy, magic, and especially Disney.
For me, the weekend was more than that. It was a time to celebrate friendship, to celebrate a special bond with those people who love putting on these events.
Without these people I would not be there. Without those people I would not be inspired to emulate their approach to life and their need to help others.
I'm talking about three special people who will forever represent all that is good, kind, and generous and who will always serve me as a model for what a human being should be and how one should lead their life.
First and foremost is my paisan Lou Mongello, author of the wdwtriva book and host of the wdwradio show. His drive with his dream team project is amazing. His energy towards doing whatever he can to help people is limitless. His heart is boundless. I am so honored to be associated with him in any endeavor.
For those who are fortunate to know this man and even call him a friend, consider yourself blessed.
Of course there are no words to describe the perfect humanitarian but if a picture is worth a thousand words maybe a picture of the incomparable Deb Wills will serve as that definition. When I think of Deb my mind overflows with words such as kind, gentle, generous, helpful, caring, but most of all love. There is a reason why she is so loved. She treats everyone so special and just always seems to be doing something to help someone. Along the way inspires the rest of us to emulate her wonderful philosophy.
There is a lot to say as to how one person can impact the lives of others. Be it AllEars, breast cancer awareness, Mousefest, or MagicMeets, her involvement seems to bring magic to these and anything else she touches. It's a gift for sure and I've always said that God made a mistake…he let an angel slip through the cracks and fall to Earth. This weekend I was reminded once again that I am blessed with a friend who is an Angel and inspires me so much. Thanks Deb.
Finally I can wrap this up by tying it back to the person I mentioned from the outset. When you think about how many people went to the very first MagicMeets (then called DisMeets) just four years ago, and then realizes that number grew more than tenfold you begin to realize that someone is doing something right.
That someone is Fred Block.
He is the glue, the catalyst, the inspiration, call it anything you want but without him and his strong beliefs this event would not be what it has become today.
I've known this mountain of a man for only a year but already he has become one of my dearest friends. His family values, his love for Disney, and his love for his fellow man are unparalleled.
I'll leave you with a story that will hopefully give you an idea of what this man is all about. It was at last year's Mousefest in WDW that Fred walked up to a small boy and handed the child one of the many pins one could find at Mousefest.
The boy's face lit up and he thanked Fred for the pin.
That little boy came to the MagicMeets 2007 and sought out Fred to thank him again.
Perhaps…just perhaps…that gesture of kindness from Fred Block may inspire this child to do the same one day.
That's what it's all about.
That's why Fred Block spends almost one year in planning this event.
That's why he has so much support from his sponsors, guest speakers, and staff.
Like all of us he believes is family, fantasy, magic, and making people happy.
The previous post in this blog was Excitement Building MagicMeets!.
The next post in this blog is The Letter.