By: Isabella L., Jr. Past Grand Worthy Advisor 2020 & 2021
Each Grand Assembly is unique by design, and boy was that true for Grand Assembly 2021. The journey of the Leading Lemurs’ began when we were appointed as Grand Officers in Ontario CA in 2019. Fast forward through a phenomenal year to March of 2020, where right before heading to Fresno for sessions, the COVID pandemic changed everything and we needed to establish a new normal. From zoom calls, fun videos, and much more, California Rainbow worked hard to stay connected as we faced unprecedented times. Our hope was to reunite in Ontario, CA for Grand Assembly 2021 but we soon realized that this simply was not the safest choice for our members. However, ready or not, two incredible grand years were going to come to a close for the Leading Lemurs. It was finally time to enter The Enchanted Forest: Dream ~ Lead ~ Believe on March 27th through the 29th.
After a thorough COVID-19 training, we were prepared to move forward as a team. The attention to detail ensured our continual safety by taking precautions like getting tested prior to arrival, wearing masks, socially distancing, daily health questionnaires, temperature checks, and many already being vaccinated. I arrived on-site at Heart of the Valley’s lodge in Fresno CA on March 26th, 2021, and was ushered straight into the dining hall, which was the viewing room for our onsite team so they could watch on a projection screen. I was extremely eager to see the lodge room because that’s where all filming for the live stream would take place which meant…decorations!! It’s an understatement to say that I was blown away! Mrs. Regier guided me into the lodge room with my eyes closed and I opened them to see a breathtaking castle tower. There was even a floating lantern! Tears instantly began to stream from my eyes as I was surrounded by beautiful backdrops, an enormous sparkly blue moon, to a dreamy lantern-guided canoe.
The next day, it was finally time to enter The Enchanted Forest! What an exciting day that was. My parents and our viewers finally saw the beautiful light blue Grand Officer dresses for the first time as the Leading Lemurs passed a lantern to one another during our informal opening. Meanwhile, I was crouching down behind the tower ready to pop up and catch and release my lantern! In addition to the decorations, the technology was incredible. What we experienced was very different from what everyone else saw at home. Next to the video camera and lights was a TV monitor that showed those who were backstage virtually, my video feed, and the pre-edited videos that you all saw. Miss Rosenthal was at the Recorder’s desk watching the live feed and keeping us in touch with the tech team in Chicago, plus she monitored the chat to make sure you were all having a wonderful experience. Larry was one of the awesome tech people in Chicago who would cue me in by saying “Back to Bella in 5…4…3…2…” and thanks to Mr. Zahlis and others, anytime there were “technical difficulties” he would ensure that they would be quickly resolved.
It was amazing to have our wonderful state parents by my side and my grandie Hannah there to support me and to help out as our unofficial onsite page. She was nicknamed the “Lady in the Lake” after lying on her stomach behind my canoe having only her hand pop into camera view to hand me props during my GWA report. Thankfully, my new grandie Katie lived close enough that we were able to arrange a safe meeting so I could congratulate her before installing her and the new corps of Grand Officers on Monday. It was amazing to hand her the gavel and to give her the Grand Worthy Advisor pin… you know… after I found it! While Katie was onscreen, I was offscreen jumping up and down trying to find it as Miss Rosenthal belly-crawled and Hannah frantically searched for it. There were definitely a handful of behind-the-scenes moments like these that made the weekend truly memorable.
“Dream, Lead, Believe” was a phrase that I created quickly after being appointed in 2019 because I was inspired by individuals who conquer their circumstances with passion and determination. Little did I know that our theme would be the very instructions on how to make our virtual sessions come to life. Virtual Grand Assembly came with its share of challenges both in preparation and in execution, as would an in-person Grand, but rather than focusing on what we couldn’t do, we made the choice to fix our eyes on all that was possible. The time, labor, and the love that was invested into every fiber of creating a memorable Grand Assembly was a success because we all worked together to dream, lead, and believe.
With all of my Leading Mickey Love,
Isabella L., Jr. Past Grand Worthy Advisor 2020 & 2021