‘They need our help’: Celebration repurposes Disney’s canceled candlelight processional to raise money for furloughed cast members

CELEBRATION, Fla. — At Disney World, perhaps no holiday tradition is more beloved than the candlelight processional.

Celebrities fly in from across the country to be a part of this annual event at Epcot. But this year, the pandemic forced it’s cancellation.

So Kim Hawk had an idea: To recreate the candlelight processional to help raise money for the thousands of Disney cast members who lost their jobs.

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“When I found out that it was canceled, I started calling some of my Disney executive friends and said, ‘I know this is a crazy idea, but can we use your music?’”

“These Disney cast members created magic for so many of us for so many years, that we have these wonderful stories that we can talk about,” Hawk said. “And now they need our help.”

More than $5,000 has been raised over the first week of what they’re calling the 12 Days of Christmas Celebration. Twenty-two cast members volunteered to sing at the event.

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Dancing lights that were set up at Hollywood Studios were donated to decorate the Community Presbyterian Church. On the weekends, a market is set up where 45 furloughed cast members set up to showcase their other talents.

“These cast members just need another venue to make that magic in a different way,” said Dena Wenrich, who worked at Disney for 14 years but was furloughed in March. She organized the Cast Member Christmas Fair, which welcomed 3,000 visitors last weekend.

“I think we all want to create magic for each other. And it’s cool that we’re all coming together,” she said.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.