The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 5, 2013

Tarboro Grinch steals part of Christmas

BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

TARBORO — Where, oh, where is Cindy Lou Who when you need her?

It was the diminutive Cindy Lou, who was no more than two, who was sneaking in for a glass of water when the Grinch came down the chimney to steal the Christmas gifts at her Whoville home in Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

By the time Cindy Lou was through with the Grinch, he had been chosen as Whoville’s Cheer Meister and his heart had grown three sizes — one, two, three!

There was no chimney out in the field just off Sir Dillon’s Drive, but the Grinch showed up just the same to steal the movies planned as part of an annual fund raiser held by Curtis and Melody Bearden in conjunction with  “Autumn’s Lights” Christmas lighting display.

You see, some Tarboro area Grinch contacted Criterion Pictures, who controls the copyrights for Paramount to let them know the Beardens were showing Christmas movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through the Christmas season.

As a result, the Beardens, who take all donations to benefit a child with health problems, received a cease and desist letter from with the promise they could be fined and sentenced to prison.

Ah, that must bring a smile to our local Grinch’s face!

Like stealing all the Christmas gifts in Whoville, our Grinch took away the opportunity to raise much-needed funds to assist little Makayla Lynn Manning, who, at 16 months, is not much younger than Cindy Lou Who.

Makayla was born May 25, 2012, a twin sister to Mackenzie Alexis Manning. While Mackenzie was born healthy, Makayla was not as fortunate. Born at Martin General Hospital, Makayla was flown to Vidant Medical Center 20 minutes later. She was born with congenital imperforate anus [without a rectum] TEF [without an esophagus] and VSD [heart murmur]. They also detected small abnormalities in the bottom of her spinal cord.

Makayla’s defects are known as VACTERL association, a disorder that affects many body systems. VACTERL stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities.

Makayla has undergone many surgeries starting on the day she was born. Her first surgery was to make her an esophagus and attaching a colostomy bag to her side so she could use bathroom being as she was born without a rectum. As Makayla grows, she will have to have surgeries to stretch her esophagus. She has had two surgeries to construct a rectum because of complications the first time around. Recently, Makayla underwent surgery to remove the colostomy bag, which led to further complications because the incision got infected.

Curtis found it unbelievable that someone would file a complaint to stop a benefit effort.

“How could someone be so mean-spirited?” he asked. “We didn’t charge admission to watch (the movie) … people gave freely.”

Indeed, at the entrance/exit to the lighting display and former homemade drive-in movie that was set up by volunteers, there are two mailboxes with signs that read “Thank you for your donations.” Above the mailbox and sign is a poster with tiny Makayla’s picture and story.

Curtis said the folks at Criterion were “really nice. Instead of fining us and filing charges, they let us purchase the license (for “It’s a Wonderful Life”), which is due Friday. The license was $150 — which is money that won’t be available to help Makayla.

Now in its 11th year, the program has raised thousands of dollars to help make life easier for children with health issues.

“We’ve tried to come up with something new every year,” he said, “and this year, we thought the movies were a home run until …”

He admitted they created the problem themselves.

“We were under the assumption that we were showing it on private property and not charging admission, and it was alright to do so, but that’s not the case.”

Bearden, and a number of people who have heard about the situation, share the opinion that a mean-spirited person did it on purpose.

“Oh, yes,” he said. “Do you think the average person knows about licenses on movies and who to contact and when one is needed? This was premeditated.”

So, on Friday night, instead of the illuminating of the lights and fireworks and movie, there’ll just be lights and fireworks — and even that represents change because of the weather.

With inclement weather forecast for Saturday, the turning on of the lights has been moved to Friday.

“Even with the change, hopefully we will have a good turnout and raise some money for Makayla,” he said.





(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cindy Lou Who, Whoville, Cheer Meister, The Grinch and Dr. Suess are intellectual properties of Random House Children’s Books and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.)