from the St. Petersburg Times December 13, 1971
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Having looked through way too many newspapers online these last few months I've noticed that the Livonia and Wonderland Malls had some pretty peculiar attractions. I figured that was par for the course at that time but apparently not. Being from Livonia and having lived there most of my life I must have just barely missed out on the great parade of guests which appeared or merely don't recall any of them.
Although I haven't come across any mentions of Oink the Singing Pig, I have seen countless ads for Sir Graves, The Vernors Gnome, The 9 Foot Tall Man, Cyclops, Batman and Robin and many others. Hell, they used to even have live musicians playing concerts and various variety shows among the normal fare of seasonal guests like Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Of course, our attention is focused on the witchy woman from Garden City who also garnered a mention in the article. It's humorous that people actually called in to protest her appearance with concerns that their children would be turned into toads by one of her magic spells. That is truly comedic and kind of sad when you think about the utter ignorance of some people. I could understand their rationale if they said she was a negative influence towards their Christian values (regardless if she actually was or wasn't; and of course she wasn't!) but turning a child into a toad? C'mon now! It wouldn't surprise me though to hear that sort of rhetoric even today if a witch was to appear in a public setting such as a shopping mall or a public library.
I suppose that we can both thank the promoter, Al Abrams, for inviting Gundella to appear and also causing a firestorm by snuffing out her appearance due to the public backlash. It brought about more work as well as attention to the celebrity aspect of her profession.
I'm still not buying into the blame it on the "southern transplants" theory over the just plain quackery of a few religious zealots though. There are many descriptions of Livonians but one I've never heard of is that of the vocal minority southern religious zealot! If anything they were probably just older folks set in their ways, religious to the core and intolerant of any effrontery. That or the church which now seems fairly tame compared to every other activist group out there trying to be the loudest and most brazen.