Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas, Candlelight, and John Stamos

For me, nothing gets my Christmas spirit kindled more than attending Disneyland's annual Candlelight Processional. Because of the increased amount of shows this year, I was able to attend four performances. My original intent was to see it once; because I was already going to be at Disneyland for the Dress Like Walt event, Kurt Russell would be the narrator of choice. Plans changed when it was unofficially announced that next year Candlelight would be moving from Disneyland and Main Street U.S.A. across the way to DCA and The Hyperion Theater. Throw in Disney legend Dick Van Dyke as narrator and I had all the emotional tugs to get me back to Disneyland for yet another performance. The week after, my friend Stacy enticed me with an actual reserved seat...AND John Stamos. Suddenly, I found myself back at Disneyland for the third time in less than a week. I don't regret any of those trips.

With fantastic seats only a few rows back from the podium, I was both thrilled and sad at the same time, knowing that this could be the last time I saw Candlelight in its traditional spot. As the clock approached 5:30, my anticipation increased.

Nancy Sulahian took her traditional spot on the podium and conducted the orchestra to begin the fanfare and "Joy To The World."

All of my favorite things about the show began to unfold. The human Christmas tree:

The sign language interpreter who brought the words to life with her hands and body.

And then came John Stamos, who put both dignity and joy into his interpretation of the story of the first Christmas.

It was as much fun watching him in-between segments as he silently conducted the orchestra:

Smiled at adoring fans:

and took photos to tweet to his more than one million followers:

Here's the photo he posted:

My very favorite part of the show is to hear Drew Tablak sing "Silent Night" in both Spanish and English. In all my years I have never heard anyone bring so much emotion to this traditional Christmas Carol.

At the closing of the show, the narrator is allowed a few moments to ad lib their own personal message to the audience. In light of the recent elementary school shootings, John Stamos' emotional speech hit an emotional chord.

I'm so honored to be back here to narrate the last night of Candlelight Procession, although the truth is I would have been here anyway because, you know, the world is ending tomorrow, so I figure, I'm going to be at the happiest place on earth when things go wrong.

They're like, 'Stamos, the world's ending tomorrow, where are you going?' 'I'm going to Disneyland!'

I just got a text from Bob Iger and he said it worked so well doing twenty shows, that he wants to start somewhere around Halloween and go all the way past New Year's next time, maybe into July 4th.

And so you might know, I'm a local boy, I grew up in Orange County and I spent most of my childhood right here at this park at Disneyland, and a good part of my adult life as well, and I remember when I was a kid, I don't know, 8 or 9 years old, and I could hear the music and I ran over and I saw a little bit of the Candlelight show and I didn't have seats, I was sitting back there with you people in the back rows...I dreamed big, but I never dreamed that I would be up on here on this stage. Walt Disney was right, dreams do come true.

I remember running around, and my eyes were wide and my heart was racing with excitement, and all these years later, although I've been here a hundred times...maybe two hundred times...I guess about a thousand times...I still feel the same way tonight. I still feel that magic. Disneyland, I think, reminds us adults that we're still a bunch of kids with a bunch of big dreams.

But maybe now it's time for our dreams to shift from our own to others. So, let's continue to dream for a more peaceful less violent world. We pray tonight for those children who will never have a chance to walk through those gates, but let's dream and pray that their memories will not be forgotten.

And as we leave here tonight and head back to our cars, let's carry this goodwill and this love that we feel in our hearts tonight at Disneyland, and let them shine and inspire goodness in others that are out there in the world. On behalf of my family and myself, I wish you a happy holiday and a very peaceful and loving New Year. God bless you all.

Stamos' request for a less violent world filled with peace sounds good to me. I pray that we can all feel that spirit during this holiday season and carry it with us into the New Year.

See more vintage & current Disneyland Candlelight photos on my Candlelight web page.


Rich T. said...

Merry Christmas, Dave!

Thanks for sharing Mr. Stamos' speech, too.

Snow White Archive said...

Happy Xmas Dave. Thanks for posting the speech.

Major Pepperidge said...

Stamos has an "older Cary Grant" vibe with those glasses (minus Cary's white hair!). We all know he owns at least a part of the old Disneyland sign, I wonder what other Disneyland items he has in his collection?