Local Disney Promotional Event a Nightmare

Update: Some news video of the event posted on an Emily Osment fan site.

It’s no secret that Disney has a big hit on their hands with Hannah Montana. Not only is there Miley Cyrus with her platinum albaums as Hannah Montana and as her self, but there are other stars who are nearly as popular. Take co-star Emily Osment for instance, announce an autograph session will be held at the local mall and thousands of adoring fans and their families will show up. Sometimes things get out of control.

This story in the Times-Tribune just hints at the horror described in a story submitted to me earlier today. If you were at the Steamtown Mall located in Scranton Pennsylvania, I’d love to hear if your version of the events match this womans.

Parents who were desperate for their children to meet Miss Osment began
an almost animalistic ritual of pushing and shoving children that had
been waiting since the wee  hours of the morning.. I watched a small
child in front of us almost be trampled, if it not for her mother and
several other mothers…I’m sure she would have been.

The full letter is below the cut.

Disney’s motto of being the most Magical Place on Earth certainly does not apply to their local promotional events for kids, it’s more of a nightmare than anything.

97 BHT our local radio station announced they would be having Emily Osment from Hannah Montana for a day of pictures and autographs at the Steamtown Mall located in Scranton Pennsylvania. I’m sure every pre-teen when they heard this announcement started making plans with their parents as my daughter did with me. After much hesitation for a day or two I agreed to take her to this event along with my younger daughter.

A day out with my 2 young daughters (11 years old and 4 years old) proved to  be a dangerous event. Due to the lack of organization on behalf of the Mall at Steamtown, Disney Channel and 97 BHT…as promoted on the Steamtown web site, "come for a day of fun the kids will talk about all year!", well this will definitely be something my daughter will talk about for a long time.

Arriving early as other parents did with their young children, approximately 100 kids ahead of us that arrived at 6am and we arrived at approximately 6:45am it proved to be a day that hopefully these children would remember for awhile, well let me tell you as a parent I will remember it. As we sat in the mall, parents and children began to bond and talk about why they arrived their so early. Of course for the children, it was their chance to meet a star that they admired. For the parents, it was to spend a day with their child and hopefully fulfilling a dream for them.

Well that dream for some children and adults alike quickly turned. The star arrived about 40 minutes late…which, hey she’s a star..things happen and plus she’s a kid, can we really hold her accountable. This is a lot of pressure for a young kid to see the large amount of adoring fans that turned out to meet her.

The VIP’s were in line first to be signed before the guests who had arrived at 6am  were allowed to make their way through the line. About  halfway through the event, an announcement was made that Miss Osment would be leaving at 4pm instead of the advertised 5pm, this is when the ‘carnage’ of the day had taken over. Parents who were desperate for their children to meet Miss Osment began an almost animalistic ritual of pushing and shoving children that had been waiting since the wee  hours of the morning.. I watched a small child in front of us almost be trampled, if it not for her mother and several other mothers…I’m sure she would have been.

Calls to security at the mall proved to be useless because unfortunately the management staff at Steamtown did not make the appropriate accommodations for this type of event. As being a past event planner myself, and having attended and organized numerous events in the past…this definitely was the most mismanaged I have ever seen. When I called the mall a few weeks earlier, they had said this event was going to be huge….with these facts known, appropriate security measures should have been taken to ensure the safety of the children/pre-teens that were attending.

The Scranton police arrived close to 3:45pm, and when approached by my 11 year old daughter who was near hyperventilating while in line ,that there was a barrage of people that were pushing themselves through other young children, we were told that’s not their job, they were there purely to see that Miss Osment was escorted out safely. Well, I say to Steamtown Mall and the City of Scranton itself, how about the safety of the children who were attending this event.

Small measures could have been taken to ensure the guests who attended were safely escorted to the stage, such as handing out numbers to arrivals as they had gotten in line, making another barrier between the lines and the crowds that were gathering, etc. I’m sure I can list many more…

I am also disappointed as a parent that adults at this event would not even care for the safety of the children that were around them, and how this example to their children will prove to be fatal in the future. What they have learned is not to regard for the safety of the people around them but to practically step, push, pull, until they get what they want. Are these really the adults of the future that we want in society.

This was not a day out to remember with my daughter as I had planned but a horrible memory that will be etched into her memory for some time. I do hope that the Management of Steamtown Mall, Disney Channel, Longbotham Strategic Marketing, and 97 BHT will learn from this and ensure the safety of children at these events in the future.

And did my children meet Miss Osment after all of this? No they didn’t, they were more happy they left the craziness of this event and arrived to the safety of our home. I guess the best place to see Miss Osment is watching her on our television set.

Sincerely,
Lailani Augustine

Cc: WNEP 16
WYOU 22
Disney Corporate
The Times Leader