Friday, July 27, 2012

Walt's Windows - Mickey's Cornfield

One of my favorite stories in Jack Lindquist’s In Service to the Mouse is set in Betweenland.

Lindquist was flying across Texas one day and realized that he could see circles created by natural gas fields at 35,000 feet.  His mind then jumped to the ability to see a famous three circled profile from a plane.  As he considered the idea, he realized that a Mickey Mouse that could be seen from airplanes would be a good idea for Mickey’s 60th birthday in 1988.  After a vast amount of research it was determined that an Iowa cornfield would provide the best color contrasts to see Mickey Mouse from the air.  Lindquist’s staff contacted Iowa State University (or should we say Between University) and selected together the farm of the Pitzenberger family of Sheffield, Iowa.  In a turn of irony, the Pitzenberger family rented the 3,000 acres from a gentleman named Walt!  The small town embraced the idea of the Mickey Mouse birthday card and used it as an event to promote their small town of 1,224 (Lindquist, 183-4).
An Associated Press story recounts how Joe Pitzenberger created the mouse,
Using a design developed with the help of a surveyor, Joe Pitzenberger planted corn in the shape of Mickey’s head surrounded by oats in a day and a half last spring.  He said it took just three hours longer than usual to plant the field, which has been kept alive by rain that has eluded some other areas in the state (“Iowans help Mickey Mouse Celebrate”)
Magical rain was the key to growing Mickey Mouse in Iowa.  The summer of 1988 was a drought for Iowa.  Yet, the rain came to Sheffield and the crops grew and Mickey Mouse, the crop circle, took shape on a Betweenland field (Lindquist, 185).
The design consists of 6.5 million corn plants surrounded by 300 acres of oats, and its 1.1 miles from the tip of Mickey’s nose to the end of his ear, said Disneyland spokeswoman LouAnne Cappiello (“Iowans help Mickey Mouse Celebrate”).   

Mickey Mouse made f corn from the air.
Photo Taken from
As they say in Field of Dreams, If you build it they will come.  And come they did.  For the official opening Disney put on a Birthday party in Iowa.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy all attended and met with guests.  Earforce One, a Mickey shaped hot-air balloon, soared in the Iowa sky.  Around 15,000 people came to celebrate Mickey’s birthday.  On the following weekends Iowans visited Sheffield to see Mickey’s profile from miles around.  The publicity went beyond Iowa as the cornfield was covered by major media outlets.  And overflying airlines alerted passengers to the hidden Mickey outside the airplane (Lindquist, 185). 
Sometimes we dream of Disney, trying to think of ways to reconnect when we live far away from Orlando and Anaheim.  Sometimes we need to remember that the mouse sometimes comes to us!   

No comments:

Post a Comment