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As a child growing up in Massachusetts, I vividly remember these
family road trips that we'd take in the Fall. Where -- as we'd zoom along the highway,
headed for the Bay State's South Shore for some family function -- I'd
occasionally catch a glimpse of a cranberry bog.
Now you have to understand that -- when Autumn comes to New
England and you have a pond filled with bright red berries that's then
surrounded by a forest where the leaves have turned ...
... you don't need to be Walt Disney to recognize a
Wonderful World of Color.
It was moments like that launched my fascination with
cranberry bogs and how picturesque they could be. Which is why -- back when I
was in the Army in the mid-1980s and was then assigned to write travel pieces
about attractions that were located in cranberry country (EX: Edaville Railroad
or King Richard's Faire down in South Carver, MA) -- I'd always build in a little
extra time so that I could then wander the backroads. See if I could find a
particularly pretty bog that was framed by the Fall colors and then get some
Copyright Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. All
Which is why -- in
the Fall of 2010, when Ocean Spray and the Walt Disney Company announced that they'd be teaming to create a cranberry bog exhibit for the 2011 edition of
Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival -- I'm almost embarrassed to admit
how excited I was about all this.
I mean, on September 30, 2011 (i.e. the day this exhibit
officially opened to the public), a full hour before Epcot officially opened to
the public, I was already bogside. Quizzing the folks who'd actually set up
this temporary exhibit about how they expected to keep all 1500 pounds of
cranberries that were now on display in the hot Florida sun from spoiling / rotting in the heat.
Copyright Ocean Spray
Cranberries, Inc. All rights reserved
Well, as it turns out, the people in WDW's Horticultural
Department had conducted a rather unscientific test. Earlier in the year, they
had set up a kiddie pool backstage at Epcot and then filled it with cranberries
and water. And after monitoring this kiddie pool over a couple of weeks, they
then determined that the cranberry was a surprisingly hardy fruit and could
easily stand up to what the Florida sun could dish out.
Anyway ... The folks at Ocean Spray noticed that I seemed
inordinately interested in their cranberry bog exhibit at Epcot's International
Food & Wine Festival. Which is why I guess -- as they were prepping the
2012 version of this exhibit -- they then reached out and said "You know, we're
thinking about doing something a little different this year to help kick off this year's
Food & Wine. We're thinking about
inviting a few folks to come by the Park that night to take part in a cocktail party that
we'll be holding INSIDE of the bog. I don't supposed you'd be interested in ...
Photo by Angela Ragno
I didn't even let the Ocean Spray marketing rep finish her question. I
just said "I'm there. Just tell me where and when I need to be."
Which is why Angela Ragno and I were at Epcot this past Friday
night. Though the invitation said 7 p.m., we were there at 6:30 p.m. just so Angela
& I could then watch them set up.
Photo by Jim Hill
At some point, the event attendees were ushered into a
temporary holding area where we served all sorts of cranberry-related drinks
Then Larry Martin, the Vice President of Global Marketing
for Ocean Spray, stepped forward and made a few opening remarks ...
... And after that, it was time for the first group of 10 to
head on over to the bog exhibit. Where -- after we all stepped out of our shoes
& socks and then grabbed a pair of cranberry-red knee socks ...
... and some waders ...
... it was time to suit up.
I'm not going to lie to you, folks. It was something of a
struggle to squeeze all of my bulk into those Size 11 waders. But I did it. And
the next thing I knew, I was standing knee-deep in water, sipping on a cranberry fizz as I waded through 1500
pounds of floating fruit. Needless to
say, it was kind of a surreal experience.
That said, I did get to talk with a cranberry grower from my
old home state of Massachusetts who then walked me through the history of this fruit
(Here's kind of a fun fact. The cranberry was originally called the craneberry.
Mostly because when the craneberry bushes flowered in the Spring, the little white
flowers which form on each bud sort of look like a crane) as well as teaching
me the proper way to wield the tools that are used to harvest cranberries in the
I know, I know. People go to the Disney theme parks because
they want to experience all of the multi-million dollar rides, shows and
attractions that they can find there. But as for me? I gotta tell you that
wading around in that faux cranberry bog, sipping on a cocktail while dozens of
tourists snapped pictures of all the silly bloggers in that bog last Friday night had
to be one of the funniest / most bizarre things that I've ever done. Which
perhaps explains the broad grin on my face in the photo below.
Anywho ... Thanks to the nice folks at Ocean Spray and Walt
Disney Parks & Resorts for this one-of-a-kind invite. After decades of driving by
cranberry bogs and stopping to take pictures, to finally get the chance to pull on a pair
of waders and then actually go for a stroll inside of one -- especially while knocking
back a cocktail -- was definitely a kick.
Thought this would be a silly little story but, dang, that looks like fun.
Journey of the bog, new attraction coming to EPCOT in 2013
So this is what Jim means when he tells us that he's getting bogged down by his work for the website? (Rimshot) Thank you, I'll be here all week! Be sure to tip your waitresses.
Glad to hear you had fun!
What a great one-of-a-kind experience! But if that's your broad grin, you're going to have to work on that before you can play Santa for any grandkids someday.
I guess that's one way to chern a bog!
As a person born and raised in Massachusetts....let me just say....Edaville Railroad!!!!