For just over two months now, the walls of the Doy and Dee Henley Reading Room on the second floor of the Leatherby Libraries have been adorned with a fantastic double exhibit on loan from the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University, “Character References: The Art of the Animation Drawing” and “A New Hope: The Star Wars Art of Robert Bailey.” This Saturday, March 30th, the Leatherby Libraries and the Hilbert Museum are partnering to offer a reception celebrating the exhibit in a major way.

The reception, beginning at 5:00 p.m., will include delicious refreshments, and remarks from Dean of the Leatherby Libraries Charlene Baldwin, Mark Hilbert, founder of the museum, and Mary Platt, Director of the Hilbert Museum and curator of the exhibit. Attendees will then get to see a trailer for the documentary “Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story,” which will be screen in full later in the evening. Jerry Johnson, assistant professor of digital media at Buena Vista University in Iowa and director of the film, will be in attendance, along with four of the students who helped create the movie: Olivia Weissler, writer; Mason McGrew, editor; Zach Hess, production and editor assistant; and Jordyn Daggs Olson, promotion and publicity. Featured in the film is Disney Legend and former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist, whose impact on the Leatherby Libraries is clear in both the Jack and Belle Lindquist Dream Room and the Disney Collection, both on the second floor of the library. For a full description of the film, see below. Chapman alumna Mimi Cora (’84) and her husband Disney Legend Jim Cora will be in attendance. Mimi Cora was the project coordinator of the cornfield Mickey at the center of the film, and was a key contributor to the making of the documentary.

All in all, this should be a fantastic evening, perfect for the Disney-philes and the Star Wars-ians alike! Please do join us on Saturday, March 30th, from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Group of four students and one professor sitting and standing around a computer, with scripts open on their laps.

(Left to Right): Front Row: Olivia Wieseler (Writer), Jordyn Daggs-Olson (Publicist); Middle Row: Mason McGrew (Editor); and Back Row: Jerry Johnson (Advisor, Director & Producer) and Zach Hess (Production).

Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story

In 1987, Jack Lindquist, then Vice President of Disneyland Marketing, came up with the Mickey Mouse cornfield for how to promote Mickey Mouse’s upcoming 60th birthday. After getting approval for the idea, discussions began as to where to place the ‘birthday card’ for Mickey. Disney researched and discovered that Iowa had the most air traffic, which later led them to the Pitzenberger family who farmed land in northwest Iowa.

The idea had two notable obstacles: Iowa was recovering from the 1980s farm crisis and was at the time experiencing a drought. As there was no GPS technology during this time, the surveyors had to manually stake flags into the ground for the Pitzenbergers to accurately follow with the planter. Surprisingly, the Pitzenbergers did not add any out of the ordinary practices to help the field grow. They called it ‘Disney Magic’.

Later in the summer of 1988, Disney decided to have a celebration in Sheffield, a small town close to where the Pitzenbergers lived. Seven communities joined together around that same time to form the Area Community Commonwealth (ACC) to help each other in the struggling rural economy. The event came together in a month, with over thirty thousand people coming to Sheffield to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday which included beauty pageants, street dancing, hot air balloon rides, and Disney character meet and greets.

“Growing Magic: A Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story” was produced by students of the Buena Vista University Digital Media Program.