Main Street Electrical Parade
By Benjamin Rockwell
Last Monday, my wife, son and I all attended the very last Main Street
Emotions were running high around the Main Street area where we choose
to sit down, and they had 1¾ hours of a wait for the second (and final) run.
Disney was out in full force to make the magic come
alive, with street performers of all types (Trash Can Trio, some actors,
and characters moving along the route) and people face-painting little
light bulbswith a little dab of glow-in-the-dark paint too!
The media was there in their typical frenzy, and they sparked up the
crowd every time that it seemed like it was finally getting quiet.
As the time grew near for the final performance, a number of performers
came out (Cruella deVil, Clopin, and Paul Presslerwhoops; hes a real
person) and they made their way to the front of Main Street for Paul
Pressler, President of Disneyland, to make a speech about the parade,
Disneyland, and the future that awaits Disneyland. Paul Pressler used
some famous quotes from Walt Disney, and reminded the whole audience,
in true advertising tradition, about the new paradeLight Magic.
And then... it began. People started cheering and yelling, while others
started crying and sobbing. But the tears quickly moved away as camera
crews lead the way down Main Street ahead of the parade. By the time
the Blue Fairy had arrived, everyone was celebrating the last chance
that they had to see this wonderful parade. Cheers went up for Goofy, Minnie
and Mickey as we had never seen before. As the parade slowly made its
way along (it went much slower than normal, presumably for those last
memories to really sink in), the characters that normally got a small
cheer from parts of the crowd, that night were getting whoops and
hollers that I had never before seen.
From the snails and the turtles, all the way to Pete and Elliot, there
were cheers for everyone. Smeed (Captain Hooks sidekick) and Dopey both
had chance to stop right in front of our location, and milk even more
praise from the crowds. As Elliot passed, and the patriotic floats
came up, my 3½-year-old son spontaneously started to salute the girls
as they saluted the crowd. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he still
had a smile on his face.
The parade paused where we were, giving us ample time to pick up our
things (and for me to break one of my video camerasouch), and fall in
line behind the parade. Placing my son up on my shoulders, we followed
the parade from our vantage point across from the Main Street Train
Station, all the way to Its a Small World. As the parade exited each area,
and the Vocoded announcer said “The Main Street Electrical Parade,”
the cheers went up. Literally thousands of people shared the same idea that
we had, and joined in for that trek, a sort of supplementary rite of passage.
As we approached Its a Small World, there were tears in many peoples eyes, and
the cheers got louder. The parade passed through the gates to the
back lot, and massive heavy-duty fog machines kicked up fog around the
gates. The Eagle moved through, fading into the mist, slowly
from our lives for the last time. The last announcement came, and it was
faint, not due to the sound systems, but due to the cheers, and the people
saying along with it... “The Main Street Electrical Parade.”
People waving, people cheeringthe sound rose to a deafening volume.
Then, it was gone.
Somewhere up near the group of thousands of people, people started singing,
“Nah-nah nah-Nah, Nah-nah nah-Nah, Hey-hey, good bye.
Nah-nah nah-Nah, Nah-nah nah-Nah, Hey-hey, good bye.”
If there was any dry eye left, it was burst from the Mickey Mouse Club
March that everyone started in to. Remembering those words from so long
ago, the sounds, and even the little outbursts from Donald Duck, it
brought back the memories of something else we had all lost.
“Now its time to say good-bye, to all our family...
And the cheers rose again...
M-I-C... see you real soon...
K-E-Y... why, because we like you...
Yes, we lost something that night. And all we have are memories. My
first memories of Disneyland include seeing Elliot disappear while
he was right in front of the Plaza Inn (where we sat eating our food).
I remember the fireworks after that, but that tune has stuck in my
mind for years. And now, all I have are memories. That tune, the
parade, the cheerful sounds that have worked their way into my heart
over the years. When I couldnt find a smile elsewhere, the Main
Street Electrical Parade could find one. Such is the passage of time,
more things will come, and more things will go, but I am happy in
knowing that I said good-bye in the right way.
My hope for the future is that my son has the same wonderful memories
of Disneyland as I do. Whether it is Light Magic, Fantasmic, the
Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, or something else, I hope that he has
the chance to have something grow on him, like the Main Street
Electrical Parade did for me.
Benjamin Rockwell, November 30, 1996
(disneyfan @ br-cc.com)
© 1996-2008 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
Updated February 17, 2008.
Photograph of Main Street Electrical Parade: 1996 by Werner Weiss.