Birthday Quest 2018, Part 2 of 6: The “Parks & Recreation” Giants

Indian Chief...

“High-five to the first tourists of the day! And possibly the month!”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

From a narrative standpoint in a tale of Garfield statues, it may be counterintuitive to have a Chapter 2 that contains exactly zero Garfields. Our research phase brought up a limited number of bonus attractions in the same general vicinity, but two in particular immediately stoked our interest upon discovery. It’s not often you’re in a small town that can lay claim to an As Seen On TV artifact, let alone two of them. It’s rarer to find such objects related to a TV show we both really, really liked. And we had to be honest: how likely were we to venture out this far again in the near future? Or the oh-so-distant future, even? Why not catch them while we’re up here anyway?

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Rise of the Guardians” End Credits

For anyone who ever pined for a children’s version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dreamworks has answered your odd prayer with Rise of the Guardians, an adaptation of an ongoing book series by Rolie Polie Olie creator and Academy Award-winning author/animator William Joyce, whose WikiPedia entry names a surprising number of other works in which he had a hand.

I don’t know how closely the movie hews to the books’ original premise, but the big-screen version is an all-star supergroup featuring the world’s most popular public-domain holiday icons — Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman (not, alas, the Neil Gaiman version), and impudent new recruit Jack Frost. Under the guiding light of the mysterious Man in the Moon, Our Heroes are tasked with preserving the precious beliefs of children worldwide who lend each icon their powers and make their respective holidays possible. The foe that unites them is the Boogeyman, who plots to dispel all that belief, render the Guardians moot, and divert the world’s thoughts unto himself so that he might rule with terror and nightmares. Presumably this radical shift in the status quo would leave the Gregorian calendar depressingly blank except for Halloween and Tax Day.

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