Original Mouseketeers celebrate 50th anniversary of "The Mickey Mouse Club"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Topping off a summer of 50th Anniversary festivities, Harlem Irving Plaza (The HIP) will welcome three of the original Mouseketeers for a public meet and greet on August 20, then show a 1950s-themed musical on its rooftop on August 26 at 4104 N. Harlem Ave. in Norridge. Both events are free and will wrap up anniversary festivities for The HIP, which had opened in 1956 as one of Chicago's first suburban shopping centers.

MEET THE MOUSEKETEERS: On Sunday, August 20, Sharon, Bobby and Cubby -- three of the original 24 Mouseketeers -- will be on hand to meet and greet the public from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Harlem Irving Plaza's rooftop. The meet and greet include fun activities and music from the Radio Disney AM1300 Party Patrol, which is emceeing the event.

These famous Mouseketeers were among founding members of The Mickey Mouse Club, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Mickey Mouse Club was one of the most popular children's television shows of all-time, running its hour-long variety, live-action and cartoon show each weekday from October 1955 to September 1959. Until then, children's TV shows were mostly locally produced, low-budget productions. The show was revived in 1977 as "The New Mickey Mouse Club," then in 1989 as "MMC" on The Disney Channel, which launched the careers of such successful performers as Christina Aguilera, J.C. Chasez, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

To bring you up to date on the original Mouseketeers, Sharon (Baird) went on to perform for children's shows both on stage and on television; Bobby (Burgess) is now a dancer with a long-standing career on The Lawrence Welk Show under his belt, and Cubby (O'Brien) is now a professional drummer for numerous Broadway shows and headliners.

According to Edan Gelt, The HIP's corporate marketing director, guests may register during the event to win an adventure vacation for four to Orlando, including indoor skydiving and a day at Kennedy Space Center. "We'll have the drawing at the end of the Mousekeeters' visit, then announce the winner," she says. "That will certainly wind up a fun day for a lucky family."

ROOFTOP MOVIE FUN: On Saturday, August 26, The HIP's 50th Anniversary celebration continues with a special rooftop screening of a popular PG-rated 50's-themed movie musical at 9:00 p.m. It is preceded by a Radio Disney AM1300 Party Patrol bash from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.-- all on Harlem Irving Plaza's rooftop. Come dressed in '50s retro apparel and receive a free gift.

THE HISTORY OF "THE HIP" -- The HIP's grassroots literally served as a livestock farm before being purchased by Harlem Irving Companies in 1955. In 1956, The HIP (not yet referred to by its acronym) opened at the intersection of Harlem Avenue, Forest Preserve Drive and Irving Park Road, with 337,000 square feet of space. Then, 45 stores were anchored by a three-level Wieboldt's department store. Today the 700,000 square foot retail center is known as one of the area's most successful enclosed malls, even with a trendy power center in the neighborhood. There are now 140 stores and specialty food venues, anchored by Best Buy, Kohl's, Carson Pirie Scott and Target. Specialty retailers include Express, Express Men, Hot Topic, LensCrafters, Bath & Body Works, Victoria Secret, Limited and New York & Co. For more information on The HIP and its 50th anniversary events, visit or call (773) 625-3036.

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