The Mall of America — all 5.6 MILLION square feet of it — turns 25 Friday, so let’s stop worrying about Guam for just a moment to celebrate this milestone.
Happy birthday, Mall of America!
You have given capitalism and cement companies so much to celebrate. Look how big you are! We could fit 347 Statues of Liberty — laying down, side-to-side — inside your corridors. That’s a lot of liberty, especially for Minnesota. And you have obviously heeded grandma’s advice to “never grow up,” collecting more than 170,000 Legos for your playroom.
We are so proud of the American symbol you have become. More than 40 million people visit you every year — to ride your roller coasters, shop your 520 stores, and occasionally make headlines with crazy stunts, powerful protests, and terrorism threats not typically seen in mere 100-store malls.
Here are some of our favorite memories…
A desperate attempt to reunite with a cat
Serge Vorobyov, a popular YouTuber, stopped by in 2013 to shower $1,000 dollar bills from the top floor. This stirred quite a commotion and raised a number of questions from TV reporters and police. One was, “Why did you throw $1,000 bills in a mall?” His answer: publicity. This required some followup questions. “When asked why he wanted the publicity,” the Associated Press reported, “he said he wanted his cat back from his estranged wife.” Vorobyov did not get the cat. He did, however, get cited for disorderly conduct.
‘From my cold, dead hands’
In 1994, after an appearance to support a Republican candidate for Senate, actor and National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston was confronted by protesters while having lunch at a mall restaurant. We don’t know if this happened in the food court at Sbarro. In fact we don’t know much more about this incident. But it was Charlton Heston — Moses himself, for God’s sake — so we felt an obligation to include it.
‘Getting arrested as protesters is as American as apple pie’
Protesting at Mall of America is kind of a thing. There have been dozens of large rallies there during the last quarter century. Political. Racial. Religious. It makes sense as a location — it’s super big. Also, it’s symbolic. Recall the name: Mall of America! At a Black Lives protest in 2015, one protester said, “Getting arrested as protesters is as American as apple pie,” which has no doubt been served in vast quantities at the food court over the years. The symbolism has also made it a target of terrorist threats. Total buzzkill.
That’s Harlem Globetrotters player Zeus McClurkin making that noise — wheeeeeeee — as he zooms down a zip line high above the amusement park, and shoots a basketball at a rim waaaaaaaaaaay down below. Score! (You can watch the video here.) He shoots another from even higher — six stories. Score! Then he tossed a ball from the ferris wheel. Score! “Yeah, baby!”
Mall of America. Yeah baby.
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