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Missouri town celebrates Walt Disney

Long before he became a cultural icon, Walt Disney grew up in a small town in north-central Missouri.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 4:29 PM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 8:47 AM

(MARCELINE, Mo.)— Walt Disney started what is now a billion dollar company, but long before the creation of The Walt Disney Company, Disney grew up in a small north-central Missouri town. 

"One of my favorite quotes was: "More things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since or are likely to happen in the future," said Inez Johnson, a family friend of Walt Disney.

Disney's family moved to Marceline when he was just four-years-old and even though he lived there for just five years, it was there on his "Dreaming Tree" that his imaginatin began. 

"We asked why is this [tree] so exciting to you and Walt said, 'you know...this tree inspired me greatly. I liked to entertain my little sister. I made up stories. I drew pictures. I sketched whatever I saw. Maybe a rabit, a squirrel, mice, whatever it was," Johnson said. 

The mice and barnyard animals soon became the Disney characters that are known today. 

Disney returned to Marceline many times during his adult life—up until his death in 1966. 

To this day, his love and kindess for the town hasn't been forgotten by those who knew him best. 

"He was real," Johnson said. "He was a very caring person. He was real. He wanted to share his love for the simple things with everybody else and he has."

Every year on the third Saturday in September, thousands come to the small Missouri town for the famour Toonfest Parade and Festival. 

The event celebrates Disney and the legacy he left behind, while also celebrating those who were inspired by him.

"I grew up with Walt Disney in my life," Award winning cartoonist Liza Donnelly said. "He was an inspiration just by being there."

Marceline is also home to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. 

It's open Tuesday through Sunday at the restored Santa Fe Railroad Depot near downtown. Click here for hours.

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