Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 41: The Ninja Turtles Love Old School Nickelodeon

Last night we attended TV Dinner at the Highball. If you don't know what these two things are, let me explain.

The Highball is a swanky night club type place complete with a full bar, dining area, ballroom, vintage bowling alleys and private karaoke rooms. Plus it's owned and operated by the Alamo Drafthouse folks and you know how much I love that place.

TV Dinner is a weekly event hosted by my good friend John Smith and my now good friend James Pound. Every Monday they show 4 episodes of some rerun TV goodness. They started with Saved by the Bell and moved on to Fresh Prince, TGIF and for the past few weeks have done a selection of old 90's Nickelodeon shows. We've missed out for one reason or another recently, but last night marked our triumphant return!

While we watched some excellent episodes of Clarrisa Explains It All and Ren & Stimpy I got to chatting with John and shared with him one of my favorite life experiences that he later asked me to share with the rest of the crowd.

When I was in 6th grade Nickelodeon took over my school.

Seeing as how this was 15 years ago my memories are a bit fuzzy, but here are some highlights of that magical day.

I remember walking to school with my brother (who was in 1st grade at the time) and some friends. We didn't usually walk to school, but since it was a special day we got there early. A bunch of kids were waiting out in front for the 4th grader that actually won the contest to show up in a magical bus full of Nick stars and fueled by green slime.

When they finally arrived we were treated to a bunch of people in costumes dressed as some of the more popular Nick Toons. The only ones I remember specifically were Arnold from Hey! Arnold and Tommy and Chucky from Rugrats. For some reason I remember the crowd pushing forward causing me to stumble off the curb. I reached out and grabbed onto Arnold's ear for balance and nearly pulled over the person in that ridiculous football-shaped top heavy costume.

Most of the day was pretty normal as far as classes were concerned except that our class had P.E. that day. This turned out to be one of the best parts of the day because we got to play dodgeball with a couple of special guests: Michelle Trachtenberg and Amanda Bynes. I took some extra pleasure in knocking both of them out. I mean I was a fan of both of them (Amanda Bynes more because she was on All That of course), but who wouldn't want to be able to tell their friends that they knocked out two celebrities in a dodgeball match? After the game but before we went back to class Larisa Oleyneck (Alex Mack) and Darris Love (her friend Ray) from The Secret World of Alex Mack came and played basketball with us for a few minutes.

Later in the day I remember meeting Lori Beth Denberg from All That which was cool, I guess. Really I was hoping to meet Keenan and Kel like everyone else at my school, but we were saddened to hear that they wouldn't be showing up because they were busy filming Good Burger. Of course when I finally saw Good Burger I was happy that they didn't show up because that movie was more than worth not getting to meet them. I vaguely remember meeting a few other Nick stars, but I couldn't say who they were. I believe I still have my "Nick Takes Over Your School" shirt somewhere that I had covered with autographs. I could probably figure out a few more names from that if I ever got really curious.

Nickelodeon set up a Global Guts obstacle course on the basketball court near the playground and they were taking classes out individually to run through the course. Unfortunately my class didn't get to do it for some reason, but when I was at recess I did manage to talk one of the attendants into letting me go through my favorite part of the course, the Elastic Jungle. I dove straight into it like every kid you see run the course on the show. It was pretty fun and I feel like I could have been a contender on that show based solely on my ability to navigate the Elastic Jungle.

During recess we also had a bunch of news crews roaming around interviewing kids and filming station bumps. Somehow I got in with a group of kids doing a bump for Telemundo or maybe Univision. I don't remember specifically I just know it was a Spanish language channel. I also don't remember what they had us yell into the camera or if it was in English or Spanish, but I do remember we had to do it over and over like 15 times.

At the end of the day they put on a concert. I remember the ads for the contest saying they would have a concert featuring any band the winner wanted and thinking how cool that would be. Well, I seriously doubt this 4th grader chose No Mercy, but who knows, maybe he really liked them and their terrible music. Of course I realize now as an adult he couldn't have chosen any band. Nickelodeon probably had very strict guidelines on content, musical style and budget available, but still, No Mercy? Really? Anyway, the concert sucked and I just hung out with my friends until it was time to leave anyway.

It was all a pretty awesome day and it's one of those stories I like to pull out to blow people's minds because seriously, who gets a party day at school thrown by Nickelodeon? One of the funnier things about this whole experience was who didn't get to participate. The elementary that won--Sonoma Ranch--was a brand new school. The year before this happened I went to a different school where I met the guy who is still my best friend to this day, but they redrew the boundary lines keeping him at our old school and sending me to the new one. It still brings me great pleasure to remind him of how close he was to meeting all those famous Nick stars.

Years later I also found at that my future brother-in-law was there that day as well. He was in the same grade, but in a different class, than my brother. My wife, on the other hand, is a year older than me. She missed out on this magical experience by one year and I never let her forget it.


  1. I remember that I didn't get any autographs because I thought it would ruin my shirt so we got home you signed my shirt for me. That and I remember that had to hose down the big metal slide into the slime because it had been baking in the sun all day.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. It wouldn't let me edit the above comment.

    I just posted a link to this blog on Reddit. I surely hope you don't mind. If you have a minute or two to join the conversation, I'm sure everyone would love to hear more details on your experience.

    Link to specific thread:

    Thanks again!

    1. Joined in. Don't know what help I can be, but if anyone has questions I'll keep checking on the discussion.

  4. Cray Cray! I was there! Best day of my life! Holla Sonoma Ranch G Town REPRESENT

    I'm Out

    *drops mic*

  5. I was there! I still have my tshirt at my parents house, its covered with autographs! The obstacle course is probably one of the biggest events that stands out to me. I live in Michigan now but Ill never forget that day at Sonoma Ranch Elementary!!!