Tag Archives: Shrek

Puss In Boots makes a surprise visit

One of our colleagues at Allied Integrated Marketing in Scottsdale emailed an unusual request.

“Can Puss In Boots stop by the RAK office?” she wrote.

Um, well…

“Sure!” I responded. And then my heart sank. We’re pretty boring at our office. We make phone calls and stare at computer screens. It can be pretty quiet for long stretches of time. What in the world could we do to welcome a furry feline who is starring in his own animated film?

And then I remembered our neighbors at Cortney’s Place. Maybe they would enjoy a visit from Puss In Boots!

We share a wall with Cortney’s Place, which  provides educational and enrichment opportunities for physically and mentally challenged individuals who have aged out of the public school system.

The staff at Cortney’s Place thought it was a great idea. “Our students have been wanting to go see the movie when it comes out!” I was told. But they decided to keep it a surprise until the moment Puss In Boots showed up.

I’ll let Dan Friedman’s wonderful photos tell the rest of the story. But before I go, I want to put in a plug.

Cortney’s Place is planning to expand so it can accommodate more than 50 students. The organization relies on donations to meet this growing need and there is a golf tournament and dinner on Monday, Nov. 7 to raise funds. Find registration information here.

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Movies we remember

The first movie I remember seeing at a theater was The Sound of Music, which came out in 1965. I was 9 and going to the movies was, for my family, a really big deal. My dad was a full-time graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. My mother worked as a secretary at our church. My parents struggled to make ends meet. So entertainment was typically anything that didn’t cost extra money — picnics in the mountains, neighborhood kickball games and potluck dinners at church.

With my parents and brothers during our Boulder years.

But at some point that spring, we all dressed up in our very best clothes, bundled into the car and turned onto the Denver-Boulder Turnpike for the drive into the big city (about 27 miles as the crow flies). We were with family friends Ivan and Doris Force, who were a bit older than my parents and always treated us like family. I don’t know (nor would any of the adults had told me) if the outing was the Forces’ treat, but I suspect it was.

What I do remember is my sense of awe as we entered the darkened theater and sat, quietly obedient, on the velvety seats. And my complete, enraptured attention as I watched the magical Julie Andrews sing and dance her way through a movie that touched on themes I was far too young to fully comprehend.

The lessons I took away from that experience were these: That movies are very special treats. That music, dancing and a positive attitude can fix almost anything. That falling in love is thrilling, especially if you are “16 going on 17.” And that love is stronger than grief, stronger than duty and stronger than evil.

I was just shy of being old enough to understand the bigger things that were going on that year. Malcom X was assassinated just weeks before The Sound of Music first opened in New York City. Six days after it opened, the first 3,500 Marines arrived in South Vietnam. Later that year, the Beatles released the Help! album and the world certainly needed it.

The narcissism of childhood — and perhaps overly protective parents — kept me blissfully ignorant of these matters. I hummed “Doe, a Dear” and “Raindrops on Roses” and all was well in my world.

So if someone asked me my favorite family film, I would have to say “The Sound of Music.” It is reassuring to know that, even in 2011, it still makes the cut.

We asked readers to tell us their favorite family movie for a chance to win tickets to one of the Valley’s UltraStar Cinemas. The Sound of Music was the movie most often submitted.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of others that were mentioned:

Airplane
Aladdin
Beauty and the Beast
Because of Winn-Dixie
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Chicken Little
Christmas Vacation
Elf
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter (series)
Home Alone
Mary Poppins
Monsters, Inc.
Secretariat
Shrek
Tangled
The Incredibles
The Lion King
The Wizard of Oz
Toy Story
Up
Where the Wild Things Are
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

What is your favorite family movie–and your favorite movie memory?

A history of Camp Fair

Entry point for our first Camp Fair, held at All Saints' Episcopal Day School in Phoenix.

In February 2004, our magazine was about to enter its 15th year of publication. Our cover mom that month was Yen-Li Chen-Zhang, a former Ballet Arizona principal dancer who was operating her own ballet school in Chandler. (It recently celebrated its 10th year.)

My son Andy was a freshman in college; my son David a junior in high school. My husband and I spent a lot of time at football and lacrosse fields.

Our February 2004 cover, featuring Yen-Li Chen-Zhang and her then 5-year-old daughter, Emily Zhang.

It was a big year for news. A report was issued saying the Bush administration misled Americans about the so-called “imminent danger” posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. A New York court found Martha Stewart guilty of lying to federal investigators. Kmart announced that it was acquiring Sears. Captain Kangaroo died. Hurricanes killed 2,000 people in Haiti (and we thought that was bad).

Blockbuster movies that year included “Shrek 2,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Meet the Fockers,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “I, Robot” and “Ocean’s Twelve.”

Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre was among our first Camp Fair exhibitors.

2004 was also the first year that Raising Arizona Kids organized a Camp Fair. It was Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb’s suggestion. A similar event had been held for several years at the Judson School in Paradise Valley, an elite private boarding school that closed in 2000 and is now the site of multi-million dollar homes. (Interestingly, if you Google “Judson School” you can find entries that indicate it’s still accepting students.)

MaryAnn thought we should take over the event. I thought she was crazy. We were understaffed and overwhelmed as it was; how were we going to coordinate something on that scale?

But anyone who knows MaryAnn knows she doesn’t hear the word “no.” So we took a deep breath, dove in headfirst and organized our first Camp Fair.

Another cute character from Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre.

It was held at All Saints Episcopal Day School that first year, and for four more years to follow. Three years ago, we moved it to the Tesseract School, which had just opened a middle and upper school campus at 40th St. & Shea and had a beautiful, bigger gymnasium to accommodate our growing roster of participating camps, some of which came from as far away as Minnesota.

This year’s event will be held from 10am-3pm Saturday, Feb. 26. (Did I mention that’s my birthday?) It will again be at Tesseract. Our entire staff will be there, as will more than 65 camps. Some are overnight camps; some are day camps located throughout Maricopa Count. For parents looking to fill their children’s summer months with meaningful activities, there is no better place to get started making memories.

RAK staff members Tina Gerami (left) and Mala Blomquist set up for Camp Fair 2004. They haven't changed a bit in eight years!