It’s become a question I hear a lot, and a question that I can never seem to find a satisfactory answer to, “Why did you start the Main Street Gazette?”
My answers can vary from the light-hearted, “because my wife said I had to stop telling her all of this stuff and find a way to tell other people,” to the dissertation length, “One of my earliest memories, the remnants of the Fort Wilderness Railroad tracks, is rarely discussed and there are huge numbers of these types of elements unknown to the regular guest…,” you get the picture. And yet, in almost every single response I give, I also tend to mention my Aunt Keeni, sometimes in passing and occasionally with a more serious tone, but she always finds a way to make an appearance in my answers.
For those of you who haven’t been following the Main Street Gazette for the past year (shame on you, by the way), my Aunt Keeni worked for the Security Division of Walt Disney World for over twenty years before a tragic car accident claimed her life on the way to work on this morning, October 14th, two years ago. She was my inside story, my front-gate pass, and one of the few people I actually listened to when they were busting my chops.
For the rest of my family, she was always whatever they needed her to be, but she was always, always, remembered as being the strongest bond between my family and Walt Disney World. When she passed away there was a tremendous void left in all of our hearts. A part of that void was the knowledge of Walt Disney World and all of the experiences we had shared with her there, in fact I still feel her with me whenever I stand at the entrance to Epcot (where she always used to meet whomever she happened to be shuttling into the parks that day) and in the far corner of Fantasyland near the now retired Skyway pavilion.
As we all tried to find our way back to a sense of normalcy after her passing, I kept trying to find a way to be a sliver of what my Aunt Keeni had been for our family. In hindsight it may seem a little disparaging to tie a person’s whole life to Walt Disney World, but it was what I knew and it was what I could give. And so, the Main Street Gazette was born out of a million reasons, but with the ever-present thought that I was carrying forward a piece of my Aunt Keeni.Last year on this date I asked two things of the Main Street Gazette’s readers, and this year I simply ask you to do the same two things. One, on your next trip to any Disney theme park worldwide tell a single Cast Member who makes your trip a bit more magical in that way that only a Cast Member can, “Thank you.” And two, and most importantly, as they say in Test Track, “Please make sure your safety belts are securely fastened as they always should be in your vehicle.”