Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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138 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 COLLECTING STORIES FROM "THE MALL" One industry veteran plans to memorialize the unique events and human interest stories from the heyday of "The Mall." O nce upon a time, "The Mall" was truly the center of its community. It was an important destination for social- ization, shopping, dining and entertainment for millions of American families each week. It was a time before computers, before Internet shopping, before 60-inch televisions and before cell phones, all which keep many cloistered in their homes today. Paul Kastner, a 35-plus year veteran of the shopping center industry, not only remembers those days, but is also on a quest to memorialize them. "Back in the 1970s and '80s, malls presented an unending annual calendar of unique shows and events to generate traffic," says Kastner, who began his career as a promotions director at a 1.5 million-square-foot enclosed mall in New Jersey. "It was a fun time being an impresario and coordinating such things as Santa parachuting from the sky to begin the holiday shop- ping season, to the appearance of celebrities of the day like Tiny Tim who played the ukulele while his wife, Miss Vicky, danced through the tulips in center court." Kastner remembers truly odd exhibits like The Creature Frozen in Ice, community events such as car, boat and health shows and entertainers the likes of Henri LaMorthe, who dove into a child's-size wading pool filled with only 15 inches of water from a 40-foot high platform in center court, every hour on the hour. "There was a whole treasure trove of such events that have faded into history," Kastner says, "and many humorous inci- dents that surrounded them which make for wonderful stories." In addition to the events, thousands of real human inter- est stories played out in malls every year. There were marriages, old friends reunited by chance, and even lost children who were never really lost, just parked by parents who used mall security as baby sitters. Kastner is appealing to those industry professionals who have recollections of their own to send them to him, along with any photographs of events from those times. He has setup a special website, storiesfromthemall.com, which already has stories and photographs he amassed when he first started this project many years ago. Kastner's hope is that what is presently on the site is just the beginning and will serve to stimulate memories and recollections of others in the industry to add to the collection. "One day this site will serve as a tribute to those bygone times and shine a much needed light on "The Mall" as an important fabric of society and herald the entire industry devoted to building, managing and promoting them for the public," he says. Stories and/or photographs can be emailed to mallstories@kastner2. com. Story categories, guidelines and suggestions can be found at stories- fromthemall.com. All submissions must contain the sender's contact informa- tion and photographs must be accompanied by permission from submitters that they may be reproduced. The King Arthur High Wire Act was a traveling act that visited early malls. Tiny Tim was one celebrity who performed at malls.

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