18 November 2008
Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!
Mickey turns 80 today! I think that’s incredible, and it inspired me to shoot a colourful photo of the bed in our guest room—the room some of our guests have dubbed, “The Mouse Suite.” Is it just me, or is this birthday being very overlooked? I guess perhaps the powers that be at Disney, are saving their efforts for the big blowout that will happen in 2028!
On another subject entirely, here’s the latest article regarding Dickens on the Strand—scaled back, but still ON!
I sent a message out to the Yesteryear Enthusiasts Society group last night with some other update information. Sparked by an email from Larry who was confused to have received a refund for his Galveston Historical Foundation Dickens Ball tickets, and needing to talk to her, anyway, I called the GHF offices and spoke with Molly late yesterday afternoon.
It seems that there were not enough advance ticket sales for the foundation to justify the expense of the event. Our group alone, represented nearly half of what was presold. The Galveston Historical Foundation Dickens Ball is cancelled for 2008. And, Molly indicated it would seem logical to anticipate a much more intimate Dickens on the Strand, than we’ve seen in a very long time.
To what can we attribute the presale of only 27 tickets to this event usually enjoyed by 150? Are the usual Ball attendees Galvestonians who are too caught up in their own recovery efforts to be able to make time for Dickens? Perhaps they’ve lost all their Victorian costuming in the flooding? Are they too short on money? Or, were they simply assuming the event was cancelled, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Kyle and I discussed it last night, and we are concerned that that does not bode well. We are a bit fearful that the “average joe” who normally thinks about attending Dickens on the Strand, may not actually bother to find out that the event is on. Certainly, I’ve tried to do my part to spread the word, and the Galveston Historical Foundation website has been very clear from the earliest point possible that the event is happening. And, there have been a few mentions of it in the local news, there. But, if people don’t pay attention, the assumption could be made that Galveston isn’t ready, and that the event can’t happen.
What those people are forgetting is that Galveston can’t afford for the event NOT to happen!
Dickens on the Strand is the largest annual fundraiser for the GHF. Its ticket sales, and vending proceeds help monetarily power all the important restoration efforts of the foundation. Over the years since the festival started in the seventies, the Historical Foundation, and a few special philanthropists have put Galveston Island back on the map of tourist spots and places to visit. Even in the decade and half that we’ve been attending the festival, we’ve seen amazing growth and renaissance efforts in the beautiful little downtown area. Antique stores, banks, museums, boutiques, condos, restaurants, and even a few tasty little national chain stores (like Chico’s!) had come in and turned the once forgotten downtown zone into a bustling little business center. And, now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the hands of the clock have been turned back, and once again this charming Victorian era city is struggling to survive and needs help.
Hopefully, the Dickens on the Strand Festival will provide some of that help.
Progress is slow, but it is happening. I got word yesterday that a couple of downtown businesses have reopened, including the Emporium. In our early years of doing Dickens that was always a favourite stop. Kyle has purchased many a beer from that fine establishment. I can remember befriending employees and being invited to walk into the huge room-sized refrigerator on hot Dickens days. I’m glad they’re back, but so far, they are among the very few.
Bravely, the GHF pushes forward with festival preparations, despite the obstacles nature has placed in its path. This cancellation of the ball is only the latest disappointment. The first difficult decision was to scale back the festival borders. Usually two blocks wide and four blocks long, comprising a large, ladder-shaped portion of downdown, this year’s event will take place entirely on The Strand itself. Then, recently came the realization that the over 400 lanterns used in the annual Candlelight Parade could not be saved from the badly water-damaged warehouse, and so the sparkling parade and evening hours of the event would have to be pulled from the schedule. And on a purely financial level, some things just aren’t possible. For example, this year’s event will not include the usual “snow hill” that is such a crowd-pleaser in our southern land of non-white Christmases. The financial cost was just more than the foundation could pay.
In fact, much of what is going on in Galveston right now, is really all about the money. Our nation’s government has not yet come through with the millions of dollars needed to relieve Galveston after Hurricane Ike. The GHF finally got to have a meeting with FEMA this week. I read where the Meadows Foundation of Dallas (big SMU money) has given $100,000, to the GHF restoration efforts, but that’s only a drop in the bucket, and won’t go far.
Everyone who’s heard me speak or read my writings of the last couple of months is familiar with my mantra: Galveston needs us. The island needs us to visit. The island needs us to attend Dickens on the Strand. Galveston needs our love—but far more importantly, it needs our dollars. I know the economic climate we live in doesn’t allow for us to be overly “spendy” or careless with our money. But, if ever there was a worthwhile cause for a little frivolity, this is it. Go to Galveston. Pay for parking. Buy tickets to gain entry to Dickens on the Strand. Buy food and drinks and souvenirs from the vendors, there. Do your holiday shopping there. Fill up your gas tank on the island. Have dinner in one of the many restaurants on the seawall. Stay at the Galvez. Treat yourself to a fun weekend and the satisfaction that you’re helping.
Kyle and I will be proudly promenading The Strand on the 6th and 7th of December. We’ll be proudly carrying our new Galveston Historical Foundation membership cards. We’ll be with a group of at least a dozen or two of our dearest friends. It is my sincerest hope that thousands of other folks have similar plans!
Tags: 80th birthday, birthday, Daily, Dickens 2008, DICKENS ON THE STRAND, downtown Galveston, galveston, Galveston Historical Foundation, Galveston Island, hurricane damage, hurricane ike, hurricane recovery, Mickey Mouse, Photoblog, recovery, Texas