â€˜Heâ€™s the coolest person on the planetâ€™
Dean fans gather once again to honor legendary local
By Mishele Wright
The two women attended the James Dean memorial service Tuesday at Back Creek Friends Church. They then followed the procession to Park Cemetery, where they took photographs of themselves in front of Deanâ€™s tombstone.
â€œIâ€™m emotional,â€ Carine said. â€œIâ€™m having the time of my life.â€
She said sheâ€™s been a fan of the actor since she was a teenager. She began arranging her trip to Fairmount early this year.
â€œThe people here are so friendly, so warm,â€ Carine said about Fairmount residents.
She said Dean is still popular in Belgium, too.
â€œIn the shops, there are still things to buy with his picture,â€ she said.
Close to 100 fans gathered at the church to celebrate Deanâ€™s life and talent Tuesday. Some of the fans shared their thoughts about Dean.
Sam Carlin Sr., Jacksonville, Fla., told the crowd of fans that heâ€™d been coming to the memorial for four years and that this year could be his last year. Carlin is battling cancer and was given only a little time left to live. The audience stood and clapped for Carlin after he was finished speaking.
â€œIt was very important for my daughter to see the love people have in this town and the love and inspiration James Dean has given me over the years,â€ Carlin said.
He brought his daughter, Mia Carlin, to the memorial Tuesday. Mia said it was important for her to be with her father. She risked losing her job to come, she said.
â€œThis is a big deal for him,â€ she said. â€œHeâ€™s been begging me for a long time.â€
Patricia Hudson has been coming to the memorial service for four years. The Portland resident said she thinks itâ€™s great that Dean is still popular.
â€œI think it will continue,â€ she said. â€œThere are always die-hard fans.â€
Mark Kinnaman agreed that Deanâ€™s legacy will live on for years to come.
â€œEvery year, I find new fans,â€ he said. â€œThen we have the old die-hards like me. There are no signs of dying out.â€
Kinnaman has been coming to the memorial since 1989. He said he moved to Fairmount in 2001 because of James Dean. He has four rooms full of Dean collectibles. Each year during the Dean festival, Kinnaman gives tours of Fairmount, highlighting spots of interest related to Dean. Kinnaman said he isnâ€™t surprised Dean is still popular.
â€œJames Dean is James Dean,â€ he said. â€œHis popularity can raise and lower, but thereâ€™s always going to be someone he speaks to.â€
The reason Kinnaman loves Dean so much is simple: â€œThe fact that heâ€™s the coolest person on the planet,â€ he said, â€œand always will be.â€
Karen and Bob Rothermel traveled to Fairmount from Pennsylvania for the second year in a row.
â€œWeâ€™re James Dean fans and car fans,â€ Karen said. â€œWe love cars.â€
Bob said Dean was influential in his life. He remembers watching his movies when he was 12 years old. Last year, the couple didnâ€™t know about the memorial service, they said.
â€œWe started planning this right away so we could get here on Tuesday,â€ Karen said.
The couple said they were impressed with the festival and with Fairmount in general.
â€œItâ€™s a beautiful (place),â€ Karen said. â€œEverybody was extremely friendly. The museum is fantastic. We discovered how talented (Dean) was in all areas.â€
She said she and her husband will definitely be back to the James Dean festival in the future.
â€œWeâ€™re more impressed with James Dean now than when we were younger,â€ Bob said.
Nicky Bazooka once again led the procession to the cemetery and laid flowers on Deanâ€™s grave. Before leaving the church, however, he made a few brief comments to the fans.
â€œIâ€™m so glad we can all get together at least once a year to celebrate his life and work here in Fairmount,â€ he told the crowd. â€œLike Santa Claus, Iâ€™ll be back next year.â€
Bazooka has been coming to the memorial for well more than 30 years.
â€œIâ€™ve done it for so many years now, people would be disappointed if I didnâ€™t,â€ he said.
Bazooka thinks itâ€™s great that Dean has become such an icon, but he is surprised at the popularity.
â€œWhen we first started doing this, it wasnâ€™t a big deal,â€ he said.
Being a mystery is hard work, though, Bazooka said. His motorcycle gets ridden only once a year, and it sometimes can be a battle to get to Fairmount, he said.
â€œBut itâ€™s worth it,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ve been hanging out with â€˜Deanersâ€™ now most of my life.â€