*Thanks to Focused on the Magic for hosting the Flashback Friday Blog Hop! Be sure to stop by and see all of the great posts!*

If you were walking through the winding streets of New Orleans Square anytime in the past 45 years or so, you probably heard the sweet strains of a Jazz guitar floating through the Disneyland air.  If your travels took you back to the Court des Anges or the Ornament Magique, you likely would have seen Ernie McLean, quietly sitting on a stool, playing that guitar.

When I read the news last night on Twitter that Ernie had passed away, I cried.  Ernie was the last cast member hired by Walt himself.  But, more importantly, Ernie was the spirit of Disneyland.

He was nostalgia, he was simplicity in the details, he was taking the time to take a break from the crowds and sit on a park bench listening to Jazz.  No matter how limited my amount of time in the parks was, I always took a few minutes to just be still and listen to Ernie.

I’m going to miss seeing him in Disneyland so much.  I will miss his beautiful music, and his sweet smile, and his willingness to oblige any guest with a photo or special song.

A couple of years ago, when I was celebrating my birthday in the Park, I was listening to Ernie in my birthday Mickey Mouse ears.  Ernie saw me and motioned for me to come closer.  He wished me Happy Birthday, then played the birthday song for me on his guitar.  It is probably the sweetest birthday memory I have from that trip.

So, it is with a heavy heart today that I say farewell to Ernie… thanks for making those moments in New Orleans Square some of the best memories I have of Disneyland.


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