Wednesday, December 28
ANAHEIM - A 35-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree caught fire in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, part of the Disneyland Resort, in the predawn hours today and 2,300 guests were evacuated, fire officials said.
The fire broke out at about 3 a.m. and the hotel sprinkler and alarm system activated automatically, said Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Sabol.
There were two minor injuries – one woman complained of back pain and a second of stress – but neither was taken to a hospital.
Firefighters responding to the call arrived to find smoke billowing from the tree, but the blaze was contained by the sprinkler, Sabol said.
“They only had to set out one hose,” she said.
Sabol added that the audible alarm and strobe lights in each guest room roused the occupants of the hotel, which was filled to capacity.
Now here's the bloody unlikely part:
“The evacuation was orderly and completed in four minutes,” she said.
When asked how 2,300 sleeping people exited the eight-story structure in four minutes, she said that “some of them had early flights and were up already.”
Tuesday, December 27
An Unexpected Show
Part of the crowds waiting for Monday afternoon's performance of the Parade of Dreams at Disneyland got an unexpected pre-show when a large choir marched up Main Street, singing songs and chants that urged people to stop buying Disney products.
It turns out that the group was that of Willam Talen (under the name Reverend Billy), a long-time anti-consumerism performance artist who first made a name for himself by targetting New York City's Times Square Disney Store back in 1997. Over the years, his "act" has grown into the Church of Stop Shopping (link) and he has toured the world (sometimes performing guerrila acts of protest, other times actually performing on stage).
According to various online accounts of his group, he is frequently accompanied by a 32-person choir and four-person band. Based on yesterday's events it seems the choir got in while the band had to stay home. Rick Martinez, spokesperson for the Anaheim Police Department (APD), confirms that his choir consisted of approximately 30 people and that many were in choir robes while Talen himself was wearing clerical garb. According to Mr. Talen's comments on the incident at his Web site's blog, the entire group wour track suits to hide their outfits.
Naturally, Disneyland management wasn't keen on their singing topics and park security spoke to Talen in an attempt to bring the performance to a close. When they were rebuffed, on-site officers from the Anaheim Police Department were called in to deal with the situation. Talen ignored them as well, and he was removed to a backstage security station and arrested, according to Martinez, for trespassing and resisting an officer. Though one description we've received said that Reverend Billy was actually handcuffed and dragged "off stage" in front of everybody watching on Main Street, Martinez at APD could not confirm this. Following Mr. Talen's removal, the accompanying choir agreed to peacefully leave Disney property. Mr. Talen was released later Sunday evening and a trial date has been set for February 2.
Here is the story on the Stop Shopping Monitor blog.
Well you have read it straight from the Reverend’s pen. The Church ended its Tour in one of America’s most ironic and twisted entities.
On Christmas morning we set out for the High Temple of Sweatshop Retail. We have been to Disney stores before, but that was small potatoes compared to being in Disney’s Mothership.&
We stealthily entered the park in five separate groups of choir members and crew. With our robes in our bags, we maneuvered through the park without consequence.
With timely precision we processed to our designated location: Main Street. I gazed at the Disney Castle looming in the background as my group mellifluously blended with the others, all converging upon Main Street where we would meet Reverend Billy.
We paraded down Main Street joyfully singing “Stop Shopping,” “Convenience,” and “What Would Jesus Buy.” While we sang I believe I heard an announcement stating that our group was NOT the Disney Parade.
Reverend Billy vociferously preached about the REAL Magic Kingdom, imploring our audience to envision a world without sweatshops, without towns in peril, and without a product-filled Christmas.
Before long the guards surrounded the Reverend and pulled him away. The choir followed for as long as we could until the guards told us to stop singing and stay where we were.
Eventually we were all brought behind the scenes of this Disney stage and held while the Disney authorities decided what to do with us.
We were held for just under an hour. The Rev was arrested and the names, addresses, phone numbers, age, and physical descriptions of each choir and crew member were taken. The police explained that we had caused a disturbance on private property and therefore would be asked to leave the park immediately. Our hands were all stamped with some kind of marker that would apparently set something off if we tried to enter the park again within the next week. If we tried to enter the park again that day, we would be arrested for trespassing.
The Rev was released at about 9 p.m. As he left the police station he was met by a lovely candle-lit ceremony we held for him outside. We were all very thankful.
Last night as I sat and wrote out the day’s events from our deserted hotel lobby I thought, “What a strange Christmas!” But as Rev Billy says, sometimes we must get a little strange in order to make a change. We must break out of the patterns that have been prescribed for us and not BY us. We must do this so that we ensure the authenticity of everything we do and preserve our rights in a time when they are disappearing.
Life is not supposed to be like a product that was mass-produced on an assembly line. It is not supposed to be a dull, predictable meal that you get at a fast food restaurant. It is not supposed to be lived under the fluorescent lights and of a big box store, where individuals have limited rights and are valued only as consumers. Life is supposed to be unpredictable, unique, creative, and… LIVED.
As the Rev says, we must stop shopping and start living.
Can I get a Change-Aliuia, brothers and sisters?