John Cawley

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Frames of Time...

001_05 - When Elections Were Fun...
In earlier days, elections were fun. Take a look at these candidates from 1976.

Today, it seems every close election causes the loser to contest and the winner to decry the other party as a 'sore loser'. For example, when the Democrats challenged the closeness of the Presidential election in Ohio ballotting, the Republicans stated the Dems were just 'sore losers'. Yet, currently in Washington State, the Republicans, who lost the governorship, are challenging the result. Just more sore losers.

But decades ago, elections were mostly patriotic parties. It was common to see stickers of "Snoopy for President". Pat Paulsen made a career out of not running for President. The election was still serious business, but it was not a time of red and blue states nor angry voters battling each other in the streets, and nominees in the courts.

Here we see Dumbo versus Eeyore at Disneyland. (The photo was taken in the Character Department dressing room.) At the time, it was common for Disneyland to put together a special promotion for the Presidential election. Characters were dressed up. Parades were held. Buttons and stickers were made. In 1976, a big "Pooh for President" celebration was heating up.

I remember spending several weeks working nights rehearsing for a big parade. The parade was to end at Main Street. Characters were stationed all over the train station boarding platform. We all had "Pooh for President" banners, flags and such. A big musical number had been devised using the Broadway tune "Applause" with different lyrics. The main refrain went, "Who is the bear we're voting for, Winnie the Pooh." (Original lyrics are something like "what is the sound we're looking for? Applause! Applause!")

Our show never went on. The Milne estate, who owned Pooh and company, felt having Pooh "run" for President politicized the character too much. In direct contrast to today's Disney management, Disneyland respected the wishes of the Milne estate. The event was cancelled about one week prior to putting it on.

Though Disneyland cancelled the event, Dumbo and Eor still appeared in a few photos and political parades. I can't remember seeing such 'political statements' at Disneyland for later elections. Too bad. Elections are important events for this country. It is a shame they can't be fun, too.

text, photo and format John Cawley


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