by Jason George, Chicago Tribune
In most towns, people would probably stare at Barb Boyd for wearing gold-sequined Mickey Mouse ears during her regular strolls down Main Street.
Here, townsfolk just wave.
"It's a magical connection," the 60-year-old explained, leaning on her walker for emphasis. "Walt's here. You just feel him around you."
Walt is none other than Mr. Disney himself, who moved to Marceline, Mo., a century ago this year. His father, Elias Disney, brought the family to Missouri in an attempt to escape Chicago's gangs and grit and to try his hand at farming. But by most accounts he failed rather miserably in the fields, and four years and 40 acres later, the family moved again, to Kansas City.
Yet just because the Disneys forgot farming does not mean that Marceline forgot Walt.
With hand-painted road signs, several towns here in north-central Missouri promote themselves as the boyhood homes of various men of national note - J.C. Penney and Gen. John J. Pershing are just a couple - but no location has done more to create the cult of personality than Marceline, population about 2,500. There is Disney Elementary School, the Disney Complex baseball field, the Disney Complex pool and Walt Disney Municipal Park.