Thanks to Dr. Keith Lipinski for sending this in:
Surprise vigil and memorial for the Chairman
Written: June 14, 2007
STAMFORD, Conn. â€“ Whether he was looking down on ordinary 9 to 5ers from his corporate office at the Titan Tower or berating onlookers from â€œhisâ€ ring on Raw, SmackDown or ECW on Sci Fi, Mr. McMahon often held our fans in great contempt. The Chairman probably would have never believed that these same fans would drive hundreds of miles to honor him with mountains of flowers, cards and pictures after seeing his apparent fiery demise on Raw this past Monday.
Hundreds of baskets of carnations, sympathy cards, teddy bears, daisies and orchids lined the entrance to the Titan Tower as countless fans made a makeshift memorial to Mr. McMahon, who is presumed dead after the limousine he entered exploded at the end of Raw. Some preferred to leave pictures of the Chairman, while others placed toy replica belts of the ECW World Title he held briefly. But everyone WWE.com interviewed said that while they didnâ€™t love Mr. McMahon, they respected him as a pioneer in the world of sports-entertainment and wanted to thank him for entertaining them all these years.
â€œI hated the arrogant b******, but I had to come,â€ said a tearful Peter Frager, who said he drove all the way from Borger, Texas. â€œIâ€™ve watched wrestling for so many years â€“ I grew up watching him, even during the days when he was just an announcer. Itâ€™s going to be weird watching WWE without him.â€
One fan, dressed in a retro powder blue sports jacket with the old World Wrestling Federation logo that was once the Chairmanâ€™s trademark, was too overcome with grief to talk. His shoulders shook and lips quivered before he buried his face in his hands. He had to be held by his two friends that were at his side.
â€œHe used to practice the Chairmanâ€™s strut and swagger,â€ one friend said. â€œHeâ€™s barely eaten since seeing the explosion. But he insisted on coming here and paying his respects.â€
Doâ€™ rags, candles and signs that read â€œVince: The Real Icon,â€ â€œLong Live the Chairman,â€ and â€œThe Immortal McMahonâ€ were scattered among the throng of well-wishers gathered outside the Tower. The eyes of some WWE employees widened and some jaws dropped at the outpouring of love for Mr. McMahon.
â€œI have never seen anything like this,â€ said a receptionist at the headquarters. â€œItâ€™s just amazing. â€¦ I could barely maneuver past the flower baskets when I returned from lunch.â€
The McMahon family remained heavily on the minds of our fans. Harold Laurel, of Bayonne, N.J., said the Chairmanâ€™s tragedy hit him especially hard. Looking up at his 3-year-old – who was preoccupied with sucking on a Jolly Rancher â€“ Laurel said that McMahonâ€™s presumed death reminded him that life can be too random and too short to be taken for granted.
â€œThe fact that this happened just before Fatherâ€™s Day â€“ itâ€™s just terrible, terrible,â€ he said. â€œI know how Shane and Stephanie must feel â€“ my Dad passed away around this time last year. I just hope they can get through this and help their mother get through this.â€
Laurel then gently knelt down as he enabled his son to come down from his shoulders. The boy continued eating his Jolly Rancher as his father enveloped his small fingers in his hands.
â€œEntertainment aside, this whole thing just reminds me that we have to cherish each other every day,â€ Laurel continued. â€œIâ€™ll miss seeing Mr. McMahon. He was evil, but he still had a family. I hope he has found some peace.â€