Archive for September, 2006

Back to the Beginning… Part 3

Here’s Part 3 of WBIR-TV10’s feature on the beginning of the World’s Fair.

I was there that day, in the mass marching band assembled from various high school bands all over the area.  From where I stood, I could clearly see Ronald Reagan behind his podium (and bullet-proof glass, having taken one the year before) and deliver his speech.


September 13, 2006 at 11:39 pm 2 comments

Red Skelton

Red SkeltonYesterday I was in attendance at the Covenant Platinum Awards at the Knoxville Convention Center, an event honoring area seniors. The entertainment was provided by Brad Zinn, who did a tribute to comedians of the past with impressions, songs, and good humor.

One of the comedians he paid tribute to was Red Skelton. I realized as I sat and watched that almost 25 years ago I had sat in almost the exact general location and seen the real Red Skelton perform at the Tennessee Ampitheatre.

It was a night near the end of the run of the 1982 World’s Fair, and as dusk fell many, many people began pouring into the area surrounding the Waters of the World. I found a place with my family on the other side of the manmade lake from the Ampitheatre, near the Power Substation that was used simultaneously as a power grid and an exhibit for the energy-themed fair. The managers of the Ampitheatre opened up the removable back wall so everyone could see Mr. Skelton perform, almost in the round.

He held the audience in thrall for a good while, and not only entertained us with his clowning, mimicry and general silliness, if I recall correctly he recited his inspirational one-word-at-a-time explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance. If you’ve never heard Red Skelton perform this bit, you should try to find a recording somewhere because it makes you think about the Pledge as you never have before.

That was one of the highlights of that summer at the fair to me, and I was glad for the memories the performer brought back to me yesterday as he, too, did Skelton doing the Pledge of Allegiance.

Was anybody else at that original Red Skelton performance 25 years ago?

UPDATE (12/14/06) : The comedian who performed his Red Skelton impression commented on this post – read what he says about Skelton’s life, it’s very interesting.

He also provided a link to hear Red Skelton recite his “Pledge of Allegiance”:

September 1, 2006 at 3:09 pm 12 comments

Back to the Beginning… Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of WBIR-TV’s series on the origins of the 1982 World’s Fair.

There was plenty of controversy before the way was finally cleared in 1977 for the Fair. Then the work began: securing financing; lining up exhibitors, and turning an old train switching yard into a Fair.

September 1, 2006 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

Remember the Date

The 25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair is on May 1, 2007. Mark your calendars!

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