Going Viral in the ’80s.


The term “went viral” is as common as “text me.”

Not too many years ago, I would assume someone was talking about getting the flu.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are our “viral” sources today. It can be as silly as our local Bakersfield cat attacking a dog biting a child to a horribly out-of-tune singer. This past month has been all about raising money for ALS with the “ice bucket challenge.”
ice bucket challenge

With the ice bucket challenge going viral, I was reminded of another challenge some 28 years ago.

Remember this was before Social Media. If something went viral, it had to be seen on television, newspapers and blasted by the news media.

This event was and it went viral.

I drove from my home in Newport Beach up to Long Beach, paid $10 to have a place in line and stood with almost 7 million people in the first “Hands Across America” campaign to fight hunger and poverty.

There were four celebrity National co-chairs for the event. Check these names:  Kenny Rogers, Lily Tomlin, Bill Cosby and Pete Rose. (I kid you not)

Every major city had a host of celebrities taking part.

It was a beautiful day in Long Beach. Our anchor celebrities were Mickey Mouse and Goofy (Of course), Rev. Robert Schuller, Kenny Loggins and a few others I can’t remember. Papa Doo Run Run was playing live music at the Queen Mary which was the starting(or ending) point.

THIS IS A “HANDS” LINE IN SANTA MARIA CALIFORNIA
Hands Across America

In New York there was Brooke Shields, Lisa Minnelli, Gregory Hines and many more.

In Washington D.C., President Reagan and Tip O’Neill held hands in the middle of the chain. For whatever reason, Michael Jackson was in Columbus, Ohio.

The event raised $34 million.

My friends back in Indiana remembered it was going to work in tandem with the Indianapolis 500 mile race. There would already be 300,000 plus packed in there that could take part. However the race was rained out, but the Hands Across America still happened there– in the rain.

Did any of you take part?  It was May 25, 1986. What do you remember and where were you?

About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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2 Responses to Going Viral in the ’80s.

  1. I remember that it happened, Dan, but I did not take part. Wish I’d have been there. xoA

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