Our other emcee, Mike MacDonald, took the reigns from Eric Shapiro and chatted about his own personal feelings of what the show meant to him. This lead right into our trivia prize give-away.
The prizes consisted of old VHS films shot on the Kleinburg Studio grounds; an old 45 recording of the theme music (John Bath signed this and sent it to me prior to his hospitalization in 2001); three original series scripts (courtesy Jesse Cohoon); and lastly a car compass- that was offered to Dale Tober—the fan who had travelled the furthest distance to be with us (Vancouver, B.C.).
Mike was at first very skeptical that any of the questions would be answered, as it seemed as though only die-hard fans would be able to get them. In fact, we were both astonished at how easily the trivia questions (see above) were answered by the different fans. Even young ten year old fan Justin Jones knew the answer to the question: What was the name of the rapids that run through Indian River? answer: Dead Man Rapids. (According to his dad, Gord Jones, Justin had a great time and had had a hard time sleeping the night before just knowing he was going to meet the ex-rangers the next day).
Finally came the draw every fan had been waiting for: who would win the two sign replicas fashioned by Mike Del Rizzo?
I reached into my draw pouch and pulled out the lucky ticket for the fort sign; and who should win, but RJ Falconi himself. No fan could have been more deserving either. You see, RJ was the one fan who pushed me to keep forging ahead with the reunion plans when I was at my wits end back in April. Yep, the reunion was at one point very close to being scrapped. Apparently, RJ has now made a Forest Rangers shrine in his pool room.
RJ had already won one of the VHS movies, so he put it back into the pot. We decided to offer it to Robert Eno, who came the second furthest distance (from Nunuvut). I have always referred to Rob as the world's second biggest fan of the show; and it doesn't hurt that he is also a fellow fire tower enthusiast.
Well, now for the one prize all the fans were eyeballing: who would win the Department of Lands and Forests sign?
Again I reached into the draw pouch and pulled out a ticket belonging to Kirk and Kelli Chittick of Lakefield, ON. Wow! Two more deserving fans. (Kirk was the fan who went out of his way to buy us a bullhorn to use as a back-up sound system).
A blown-up photo of this sign may soon be hanging at the main MNR office in Peterborough.
Things were unwinding nicely. However, there was one thing I still had to get out of the way. I would have to say some words to the group.
I am not much for public speaking, and asked Mike kindly that he not ask me up to the podium to speak; but I am glad now in retrospect that he did. I surprised myself by winging off a heartfelt speech about my history with the show and the story behind the building of the web site.
Somehow I finished off talking with these words, "It just goes to show that when you believe in something strong enough, it will come back to you—and that's all I have to say. Thank you."