- November 5, 2021
An afternoon of fun is being planned for this weekend, and the community is invited to enjoy games, food, activities and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Cast Member Pantry Holiday Festival will take place Saturday, Dec. 11, in Horizon West.
The 10 vendors are former Walt Disney World cast members who were furloughed when the coronavirus pandemic struck. They will be selling a variety of items that could make perfect holiday gifts, including edible arrangements, wreaths, holiday decorations, customizable gifts such as water bottles and keychains, and door hangers.
“They turned their creativity into side hustles, and some of them are even doing this full time,” said Emily Lartigue. “You can find a gift for everyone.”
Lartigue was a seven-year cast member with Walt Disney World when she was furloughed. She started the Cast Member Pantry in March 2020 when she saw how many Disney employees also were furloughed. The pantry, set up at a local storage unit, enabled them to pick up donated food goods, toiletries and other necessities.
Lartigue began setting up appointments for people to shop for items. She got her start at Disney through the college program, moving up from a Blizzard Beach lifeguard to a consultant in organization development. She was furloughed not long after getting this dream job, she said.
This festival is for the West Orange County community, but it’s also about giving back to the cast member community, Lartigue said.
Those who take their blue or green identification cards can get a free family photograph with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Other attendees can have a Santa photo taken for $5.e.
The event also is serving as a fundraiser for the Cast Member Pantry, and while attendance is free, there will be opportunities for people to have some fun and monetarily support the pantry at the same time.
There will be a giant candy cane scavenger hunt for $5, face painting, opportunities for children to make ornaments and a chance to adopt a puppy or kitten from Creegan Canine Rescue
“We wanted to do an in-person event for a while for the Cast Member Pantry, but we wanted to wait until everyone had their chance to get vaccinated,” Lartigue said. “The goal of the event is to raise funds for Cast Member Pantry … and highlighting the cast member vendors was important.”
Lartigue said the food trucks also will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the pantry.
A gift-wrapping station will be set up, and attendees who make a purchase can get their packages wrapped on the spot for a fee.
Entertainment will include the Windermere High School cheerleaders, who will showcase their competition routine for the crowd.
“We would love to see community involvement,” Lartigue said. “We don’t know what to expect, but we would love to be blown away with the turnout.”
Another way to support the pantry is to register to sponsor a cast member in need on a monthly basis. Information will be available at the festival.