The Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the celebrations that began in late 2022 are still going strong. But Disney’s not the only one celebrating a milestone birthday, as 2023 is a landmark year for other entities as well. But not everyone with cause for celebration feels like putting on their dancing shoes and partying the night away.
Disney Turns 100
This is a banner year for Disney as the company celebrates 100 years of wonder, of magic, of imagination, of ingenuity. Disney is celebrating 100 years of wonder that began with the imagination inside the brilliant mind of the great visionary genius, Walter Elias Disney, when he was very young. Walt’s imaginative prowess and creative abilities would blend and lend themselves to the inception of The Walt Disney Company–first called Disney Bros. Studios–on October 16, 1923.
Celebrations began in late 2022 across the company, and the festivities haven’t stopped yet. There are even events planned well into 2024 that aim to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary, and as of the time of this post, there’s no word on any definitive cessation of the celebratory events.
And we like that idea a lot.
Disney’s in Good Company
But Disney’s not the only entity celebrating 100 rotations around the sun since its inception. The year 2023 is a landmark year for others as well, including Warner Bros. Discovery, another entertainment giant incepted in 1923. Initially called Warner Brothers Classics of the Screen, Warner Bros., founded by four brothers–Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner–is a few months Disney’s elder, as it was incepted on April 4, 1923.
The Kraft Heinz Company began as Kraft Foods in December 1923 and as such, will celebrate its 100th anniversary at the end of the year. Owner and manufacturer of global brands like Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House, and Philadelphia (as in cream cheese), Kraft Heinz has grown into one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies.
The Centenarian Icon
In addition to food companies and entertainment behemoths, a famous icon is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, but unlike Disney, not everyone is in a partying mood when it comes to this 100th, which makes sense because no one intended for it to last for a century.
In stark contrast to every facet of The Walt Disney Company’s offerings, this centenarian is devoid of glitter, pomp, and the associated circumstance. Simply stark white and standing 45 feet in height, the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles has served as a beacon for the city–a beacon that serves as one of the few constants in a world rife with continual change.
Over the years, the sign has been refurbished, remade, rewritten, and virtually every other kind of “re” available. It’s quite unremarkable, plain, and lacking frills of any kind–against the backdrop of glamour and stardom. Yet it’s still the most photographed location in Los Angeles and one of the most recognizable icons in the world.
A Milestone Birthday. No Cake. No Presents.
There were plans for a grand celebration of the occasion. But those things had to be shelved.
“The sign’s backers had grand plans to celebrate its once-unexpected centennial: a gala, a film festival, a miniature model to be carted around the city,” says Reis Thebault with The Washington Post. “At the very least, they hoped to illuminate the sign once more. But most of those ideas have been tabled or delayed. The lighting issue, in particular, is a ‘political hot potato.'”
A political hot potato, as the suggestion of illuminating the icon–even six times a year–was the subject of wild debate, especially from those living in the city below the sign.
At the minimalistic ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday, Council member Nithya Raman made an official proclamation as citizens and fellow council members cheered and clapped. “The sign has been a defining feature of Los Angeles since before any of us here today were born, and to imagine our city without it is truly impossible,” Raman said.
The proclamation was made quickly as it was scheduled between other, more pressing items on the council’s agenda. The only semblance of fanfare in the council chambers was a cake with pink frosting and the number “100” affixed to the top of it.
And even the tiny ceremony could avoid being overshadowed by current events, as Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Council president, noted in his own version of a tribute to the sign, saying:
“Let’s hope that we’re all celebrating Hollywood Sign Day today by urging all of our friends in labor and management to continue to negotiate and get this deal done,” referring to the ongoing Hollywood actor strikes.
Quite a different commemoration for the landmark than the one enjoyed by every part of The Walt Disney Company. Perhaps year 200 will be more fitting.