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Sunday, November 25, 2012

So let's talk about the Rockafire Explosion.

Okay, so I grew up in the 80's and lived in a small-ish town called Macon, GA. While many things about Macon were not so great (humidity, a downtown that did the opposite of thrive, very traditional local officials who were not fans of progression), there were a few key things about the town that were quite charming. The one that spoke most to me as a kiddo was Showbiz Pizza. Any Maconites who grew up in the 80's should definitely be able to remember this place. And from what I understand, the place was a franchise with restaurants in other parts of the country as well.

Showbiz was just magical. There was an arcade with skee ball, video games and of course the ball pit where kids would sometimes pee (not me - ewww gross, but I sure did overlook that - come on, the ball pit was FUN and a little pee never hurt anybody). BUT, you guys, the arcade had NOTHING on the Rock-afire Explosion. That was the name of Billy Bob's animatronic band!!

So I may have been a tiny bit afraid of Billy Bob. He was the giant bear that sang Beach Boys tunes onstage with Fats the Gorilla (even scarier than Billy Bob), Dook, the drummer (a dog with floppy ears), a beach bear that was kind of an airhead, and a mouse cheerleader named Mitzi. (There were other characters as well, but these are the ones I choose to remember - and it's my blog, so deal with it). Billy Bob was GREAT onstage, but after the shows, he would sometimes come out into the audience to meet the kids. Thank God Fats the Gorilla never did that. Billy Bob was scary enough. After being entertained by fun music and pizza, the last thing I needed was to throw up all over a giant gorilla out of sheer fear.

Fats the Gorilla - OMG so creepy - thank you for staying on stage!!

I remember when they closed Showbiz down, replacing it with an Olive Garden. It was hands down one of the most devastating experiences of my life. When you have that connection with a place, one that is both awesome and kind of scary, it changes you, ya know? The Olive Garden will never do that for me.

Showbiz, thank you for teaching me these life lessons:

1. The Rockafire Explosion makes any food (even TERRIBLE pizza) taste so good.
2. Ignore the pee. Just have fun!
3. Giant bears are magnificent creatures. One should both fear and respect them. And NEVER get too close.

Several years ago, when Chris and I were at the Brunswick fair, we heard it. Help Me Rhonda. We looked at each other with wide eyes. No way. But yes, it was true. The Rock-afire Explosion was just around the corner. We were so excited and mesmerized (and maybe just a tiny bit scared) by it all that we just stood and watched, our mouths gaping open. It was, hands down, one of the most beautiful moments of our marriage. We both knew, right then and there, that we shared that same feeling - that same fondness, respect and nostalgia for the big country bear and his pals.

The whole group - one big happy, kinda creepy family :)