I had the very wonderful and unique opportunity to attend Toonseum’s fundraiser Saturday evening. The event, Ka-Blam!: The Return of Saturday Morning!, entertained with virtual, physical and music performers, puppeteer’s and a silent auction. Toonseum (located at 945 Liberty Ave), is one of only three museums in the U.S. dedicated to the cartoon arts.
Held at the Cultural District Education Center, the event had the nostalgic theme of cartoons past. Posters of our childhood favorites were hung everywhere. Gary Gnu and Mr McFeely attended too. Hungry? There was a fantastic selection of catered items or you could hit the cereal table- pick a box and grab some milk for a true Saturday morning cartoon feel.
What is absolutely awesome about the event is that Carroll Spinney was the guest of honor. You know him- as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Joe Wos, exec. director of the Toonseum, had an interview session with Mr. Spinney who brought Oscar with him to start the evening. If you grew up like me watching Sesame Street as a kid, you were in awe of being in the same room as “Mr. Big Bird”. He truly is an amazing man, inside and out. I did not know that he wanted to be a cartoonist and work for his idol, Walt Disney when he was younger. Joe Wos found out and invited him as the guest of honor for Ka-Blam. He also has Mr. Spinney’s cartoons and other artwork on display at the Toonseum. This is the first time anyone has featured Mr. Spinney’s works.
I can’t help it. I’m happy that he ended up in my living room instead of behind an animation desk.
You can see my video of Carroll Spinney’s interview at Ka-Blam! at the Pittsburgh On Video website. I am sure there be will be other videos of better quality, but I wanted to share a great evening and a great story with you. Mr. Spinney and his wife seem like two of the most thoughtful, realistic people you could ever meet. Yet you can feel the greatness, the brilliance of this man as he speaks. Having made a 40+ year career as a large, lovable, yellow bird and a green, grouchy, garbage-loving monster, he still has goals and dreams for things he wants to do in life. I love it. I love knowing that I don’t ever have to quit learning, growing, and sharing myself with others. It’s the best life lesson. Hearing Mr. Spinney’s story brought back some of my childhood attitude. That ‘I can do anything and be anything that I want to be’ spirit.
Thank you Mr. Spinney for being one of the best parts of my childhood and coming full circle as a great inspiration to me as an adult.
Simply Put- The best heroes really did teach us all we needed to know way back in kindergarten and if we return to Saturday morning, we might still have more to learn from them.