Boston's Faneuil Hall has often been called " ... the cradle of liberty." Well, this past Saturday, the cradle got rocked ...
Photo by Jeff Lange
... as hundreds of soap fans descended on this historical place for one thing: Face-time with their favorite daytime stars at the Beantown stop of ABC's "Fun in the Sun" tour.
People began lining up as early as 7 a.m., some coming from as far as California just so they could get up-close and personal with their favorite performers from "All My Children," "One Life to Live" and "General Hospital."
By noon, the line to get into the ABC "Fun in the Sun" area actually ran the length of Faneuil Hall Marketplace ... then doubled back on itself. I'm guessing there was close to a thousand men (yes, there were quite a few men there!), women and children standing outside in the 95 degree heat, each determined not to lose their spot, so they'd be sure to get in and see their favorite stars.
Photo by Nancy Stadler
So, a thousand people plus 95 degrees and 90% humidity - sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Not by a long shot - because the folks at ABC Daytime really know how to throw a party.
At the stroke of 12:00, the ropes that blocked off the the cobblestone-filled courtyard that separates Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace came down and the fans in line began making their way to where ABC had set up an open air stage as well as an assortment of free fun games and activities for soap fans.
Once you entered the courtyard, you could try your hand at ski-ball, basketball and/or miniature golf. And -even if you couldn't actually score a basket and/or sink a putt - you were still guaranteed to walk away with a prize. The red-shirted ABC employees who were manning these games were readily handing out "Fun in the Sun" shoulder bags, freezer bags, water bottles, t-shirts, sweatbands, water bottles ... the list goes on and on.
There was also an ABC trivia contest where you could win "AMC," "OLTL" and "GH" dogtags. Or a free photo booth where you could first get your picture taken in front of a banner for your favorite ABC soap, then have this image changed into a commemorative refridgerator magnet.
Okay. Admittedly, all the ABC" Fun in the Sun" tchokes were nice. But these soap opera fans didn't come all the way into Boston just to get free stuff. They came into the city because they wanted to see their favorite soap opera stars.
Happily, ABC Daytime had persuaded some of their hottest young performers to fly to Boston for this four-hour long event. The six stars who took part in Saturday's festivities were ...
... Alexa Havins ("Babe" on AMC) and Justin Bruening ("Jamie" on AMC) ...
... Jeff Branson ("Jonathan" on AMC) ...
... Bree Williamson ("Jess/Tess" on OLTL) ...
Photo by Flo Lange
... Forbes March ("Nash" on OLTL) ...
... and Matt Marraccini ("Jesse" on GH)And -- to be honest -- this really rather young group of performers could not have been more personable or professional. In spite of the crush of the crowd, the heat & humidity, these kids shook hands, kissed cheeks, signed autographs, posed for pictures, even made cell phone calls for fans ... all without complaint.
These performers did everything their ABC handlers asked them to. Even closing out the event by going out into the very heart of the crowd ...
... to answer fans questions as well as provide one last photo op.
Those who hung on to the very end of the event recieved a special ABC "Fun in the Sun" gift bag which included a notebook, a postcard, lip balm and luggage tags.
Which - I know --seems very generous of the Alphabet Network. But you have to understand that ABC didn't actually walk away empty-handed.
You see, all day long, attendees were filling out raffle tickets to win a very special "Fun in the Sun Tour" t-shirt. One that had been autographed by all the soap stars attending this event. And the winner of this drawing got to take this t-shirt literally off the back of a slightly embarassed but still cooperative Justin Bruening.
So that lucky soap fan got a precious (if somewhat sweaty) souvenir. While ABC (thanks to that one raffle) was able to harvest the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of hundreds of devoted soap opera followers. Info which the Alphabet Network will soon (no doubt) be adding to its ABC soap fan data base. Then there was the hyping of ABC.com's new "Soaps Hotsheet" on-line newsletter, with the emcee who was hosting this four-hour-long event constantly saying things like "If you want to keep up to date on what's been going with your favorite ABC soap, be sure and sign up for the ABC Soaps Hotsheet."
There were also all the plugs for Disney's cable network, SoapNet, as well as the upcoming "Super Soap Weekend" at Disney-MGM Studio theme park. Again with the emcee saying stuff like "If you liked spending the day with six soap stars, imagine how you'll feel spending a weekend with 30 of them!"
All in all, this was a very slickly done, very professionally produced promotional event. With ABC's cameramen even finding the time to grab a few local color shots of fans and stars... which will undoubtedly be used in commercials to help hype the next two "Fun in the Sun" events - Dallas on Saturday, October 1st at the State Fair of Texas and in Miami Beach at the Eden Roc Resort & Spa on November 19th.
So if you have an extreme need to see your favorite ABC soap stars and/or just like the idea of collecting a pile of free ABC "Fun in the Sun" stuff, then you might want to consider attending one of these two upcoming events.
BTW, we have a ton more great photos of this event. If you're interested in seeing them, let us know.