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In Reliant Center, home to many New Orleans Hurricane Katrina survivors, a childhood fantasy came to life yesterday when Mickey and Minnie Mouse, along with Goofy and Pluto, came to help the young and the young at heart.

Shouts of “Mickey” or “Goofy” filled the room as the children ran to get hugs from their favorite Disney character. Soon all were dancing, clapping hands and giving high fives. Moms and dads, aunts and uncles joined in and let the childhood memories of happy times with Disney stories for a moment overshadow thoughts of Katrina and the past days.

Disney has a legacy of caring for children and families, and the characters bring comfort and familiarity during times of need. That is why the teams of young theater people and the facilitators come to visit after disasters such as earthquakes, fires and hurricanes, and why they visit children’s hospitals and other places where there are people in need of a moment of fantasy.

Two teams of characters came on a bus from Orlando. They take turns performing, one resting while the other team continues to entertain the children. Mickey and Minnie, of course, never get tired. Each actor is responsible for his own costume. Though they insist they are not costumes – they really are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy. Mickey and Minnie’s helpers from the special events team came from Houston and Los Angeles. They introduce the children to the characters and make sure all have a good time.