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Dora mania

Hundreds of young fans wait in line for hours to get photo taken with their hero

Hundreds of young fans wait in line for hours to get photo taken with their hero

March 12, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HALFWAY

The line to see Dora the Explorer, straight from the television cartoon to the shopping mall, stretched on for hours on Saturday.

That's right: The estimated time from the tail of the line to a picture pose with Dora in Valley Mall's center court was, at times, three to four hours.

And still, they stood.

By one rough count just after noon, about 700 people were in a line that snaked back and forth a few times, extended toward Sears, wrapped around an inflatable bouncy castle and ran the length of the mall, just short of JCPenney on the opposite end.

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"This is bigger than Santa Claus," said Jo Kershner, the mall's supervisor of security.

She said the first fans started lining up at 7 a.m., four hours before Dora - actually, a costume likeness - was to appear.

"They're very patient," she said.

With children so head-over-heels about Dora, parents said they had little choice.

Around 11:45 a.m., Madison Bible, 2, was wearing Dora overalls and sitting in a stroller. Her parents, Matt and Kandi Bible of Hagerstown, were gearing up for a long day of slow advancement. They were the last ones in line.

The prize at the front of the line was an instant photograph with Dora for $5.

Proceeds of the pictures and other merchandise, including balloons costing as much as $5, were earmarked for Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.

Some parents said no when they came face to face with the sea of fans, disappointing their children.

"This is crazy," one said.

"We can't wait this long," said another.

"I'll dress up like Dora, honey," one mother said.

At the same time, Tawana Vaughn of Hagerstown was just a few fans away, from Dora, within sight.

Her 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, wearing a Dora dress, was still holding up after their 90-minute wait, but a little fidgety.

"She's been excited since Wednesday," Vaughn said.

She said Hannah watches "Dora the Explorer" five times a day. "This was her first cartoon character, so this is special for her," Vaughn said.

According to a Web site for Nick Jr., a cable network that airs Dora, she's known for solving problems using Spanish words and phrases - which young viewers then learn.

Finally, the time had arrived. The person in the 6-foot costume was aiming Dora's permanent smile right at Hannah. She was next.

Hannah approached. She was guided to a spot at Dora's left and held the cartoon character's giant hand.

Click. Vaughn had a picture.

Hannah reached for a paw belonging to Boots, Dora's monkey friend on TV, who also was represented in a likeness at the mall. She touched Boots' tail. She waved to Boots as she walked away.

It all was over in under a minute.

Off to the side, Jayda Sandridge, 3, proudly held up the instant photo that permanently captured her and Dora.

"She watches Dora every night to go to sleep ...," said her mother, Ashley Keefer of Hagerstown. "She's been talking about this for two weeks. Every day: 'Is it time to see Dora yet?'"

A glance was about all that 5-year-old Claudia Needy got - a glance and a wave.

"She got up really early this morning, very excited," her grandmother, Marlene Purdham of Williamsport, said in the parking lot, as Claudia clutched two Dora balloons.

Kershner, the security supervisor, said everyone in line by 1 p.m. would be guaranteed a chance to be in a picture with Dora, however long it took.

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