This is a report from Kerry Hennigan in Australia with regard to ‘Fly a Kite for MJ’s Birthday’ which she organised.
Up, Up and Away for MJ’s Birthday
Like a lot of fans, in 2011 I wanted to do something special to mark the birthday of our beloved King of Pop. Last year my friend Amy and I climbed a hill in a nature reserve behind her house and took photos of us and my little MJ doll at the top holding up our Happy Birthday sign for Michael.
This year I wanted something more inclusive of others who might like to join in and a little closer to my own home, i.e. by the beach on St Vincent Gulf in South Australia.
The idea for Fly a Kite for MJ’s Birthday evolved when I encountered by chance a photo on the internet of Michael flying a kite with his cousins Simone and Reo. It was the perfect theme – especially as I had been to the annual kite festival at the beach earlier in the year and bought a miniature kite for my doll, and had a jumbo sized one of my own, purchased in the States many years ago, and which had never been flown.
I posted an ‘Event’ on Facebook in my fan group for Michael (“Michael Jackson’s short film ‘Ghosts’) and this sparked some interest. Soon responses were coming from around the world – friends who couldn’t attend but just wanted to be part of the idea and keep tabs on the event, look at the photos I posted and write about their own plans for celebrating the day.
The beach location, Semaphore, has a long history of hosting a sideshow carnival in the summer months. But this was late August, the end of winter. The little steam train rides would not be running and the non-resident sideshows would not be present. But the wonderful old carousel which had been in-situ on the foreshore lawns for over seventy years would be operating, as would the ferris wheel and the couple of permanent sideshows and miniature golf course in the water slide complex and the kiosk adjacent to the jetty.
Two charity activities quickly became part of our informal Fly A Kite for MJ’s Birthday event – A toy drive for my ‘Michael’s Angels for Michael’s Children’ project for disadvantaged kids, and another friend’s project ‘Shoe Boxes of Love’ for a homeless shelter in the city, which involved supplying boxes of non-perishable food stuffs and hygiene essentials.
Come Sunday 28th August (albeit the day before Michael’s 53rd birthday) four of us met up at the beach at Semaphore on a stunningly beautiful day – and boy did we get those kites to fly! Amy ran around the lawn on the foreshore trailing little MJ’s tiny kite and it took off proudly bearing the image of twin orcas (dubbed ‘Free Willy 1 and Free Willy 2’) – black and white against a deep blue background, its tail of long streams flowing out in the breeze.
The big kite was a challenge. It’s a traditional triangle shape with a striking image of the space shuttle, the rainbow coloured tail of multiple streamers looking like the flames from its exhaust, boosting it higher and higher.
It certainly did go high – Way up over the Esplanade to a point where, when it came time to haul it down again, it took considerable joint effort! This baby had been gathering dust for too long and obviously wanted to keep flying free. It was quite a sight.
Our kites (and possibly our MJ t-shirts and my fedora) attracted the attention of a few other folks enjoying the beachside amenities on a sunny spring-like day (actually the end of winter here in Oz). One family asked if their young son and cute little curly-headed daughter could hold the kites. It was great to have them join in and totally in keeping with the spirit of Michael’s birthday.
When everyone else had gone Amy and I rode the little ferris wheel for a stunning seagull’s view of the Esplanade, foreshore, beach and ocean, dotted with windsurfers and yachts from the nearby sailing club. It was great to be ‘up, up and away’ ourselves on Michael’s special day.
I dream of Fly a Kite for MJ’s Birthday becoming an annual event, along with the charity drives in Michael’s name. But even if this doesn’t happen, one thing is for sure, one way or another, we will always be celebrating Michael’s special day.
There is also a postscript worth mentioning: on the 29th August I held an ‘office birthday party’ for Michael at my place of work, complete with rainbow ice cream cake, cinnamon doughnuts and lollies for everyone to share. A life-size stand-up of Michael presided over the party table in the office, with my little doll also in attendance.
I had bought a birthday card which we had all signed at the beach the day before, and which I stood on the table for decoration, along with the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign from last year’s hill climb. On unpacking everything back home that evening I was thrilled to discover that some of my co-workers had added their own lovely messages to those of us die-hard fans. That, for me, was the real icing on Michael’s birthday cake.
The card has gone, via a dear friend in LA, to Michael’s earthly resting place at Forest Lawn, bearing all our appreciation for the love and joy he has given us – His most precious gifts which know no limitations, not even death.