‘Neverland’ Comes to Life For One More Day (If Only In Spirit)
MICHAEL JACKSON FRIEND TO HOST BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB IN EFFORT TO REVIVE KING OF POP’S HUMANITARIAN WORK.
Anaheim, CA – On February 26, the magic of Michael Jackson’s legendary Neverland will be revived in order to benefit a group of underprivileged children from the inner city whom Jackson would likely have helped if he were still alive.
On Saturday, Disneyland will be known as “Neverland” to a group of 30 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles who have never been to the theme park and had no hopes of going, until now.
“This is one of the groups that Michael Jackson supported. He would have brought these deserving kids to his amusement park at Neverland if he were here,” said artist David Ilan, whose Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait is one of the sponsors of the charitable event thanks to a donation from an anonymous donor.
The event is being organized by Emmy nominated Executive Producer Jerry Biederman, who is the co-founder with Ilan of the largest tribute in the world to Michael Jackson, and Anna Araujo, Chief Professional Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles. It is co-sponsored and
produced by Roseé Entertainment.
“Because Neverland is no longer,” said Biederman, “we are turning Disneyland into Michael’s Neverland, if only for a day.”
Neverland Ranch was Michael Jackson’s celebrated home in Santa Barbara County, California, from 1988 to 2005. Inspired by his love of Disneyland, and a desire to reinvent his lost childhood, Jackson built an impressive, world-renowned amusement park, zoo and theater on his sprawling property, which he shared with countless disadvantaged and ill children. Neverland opened its gates regularly to busloads of children from various charities to experience a day of wonderment and hope.
Upon their arrival, the young guests were greeted by Allan Scanlan, known as “Big Al.” While he was originally hired to take care of ride safety and maintenance, he soon became responsible for overseeing the grounds and numerous attractions, as well as hosting the celebrity guests and the many thousands of children. During his 15 years at Neverland, Michael Jackson developed a close personal friendship with Big Al.
Scanlan, who is a supporter of The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait – along with celebrity participants such as Diana Ross, George Lopez, Larry King, Gladys Knight, Adam Lambert and members of the Jackson family – will be greeting the children at the entrance to Disneyland, just as he used to welcome kids at the gates of Neverland.
“The Amusement Park, along with the rest of Neverland, was built to bring a magical day; a joy filled memory into the lives of all those sick and less fortunate kids who visited Neverland,” Scanlan said. “The impact that a day at Neverland had on the inner city children and the children who were dealing with life threatening illness was beyond belief. To represent Mr. Jackson and to help make his dream come true for those children, to be
part of that magical day and the memory those children will hang onto was a blessing.”
In 2006, Neverland was closed. A spokesperson stated Jackson had chosen not to live there ever since the previous year’s legal turmoil, of which Jackson was found not guilty, and the legal circus in the county that ensued.
“I am sorry to say that even with all the pictures and movies of the ranch, there is no way a person can describe what a day at Neverland was like,” Scanlan said. “It is something that has to be experienced.”
Big Al Scanlan holds onto hope that one day Neverland will be reopened as a place of pilgrimage for Jackson’s millions of fans, similar to how Graceland had become a destination for fans of Elvis Presley. He would want it to be a tourist attraction only if the property were shared with
children’s charities, as Jackson had done in its glory days.
But for now, Neverland will be transported to Disneyland, if only in spirit.