In 1989, a young girl named Sara Stanley skipped across the TV screen in blond curls and a pinafore, and into the hearts of thousands of viewers.
Played by the Toronto-based actress Sarah Polley, she was the star of the seven-year, Lucy Maud Montgomery-inspired series Road to Avonlea, which aired in Canada on CBC Television and in the United States on the Disney Channel.
When it ended its run in 1996, fans were distraught, mainly because it was one of the few remaining feel-good family shows -- cut from the same cloth as better-have-a-hankie-handy programs such as The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.
Unable to turn their backs on the bucolic, turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island town of Avonlea, fans in far-flung locales around the globe stayed connected through the Internet, chatting about their favourite episodes and characters such as the inimitable Hetty King (played by Jackie Burroughs), the geeky but decent Jasper Dale (R.H. Thomson), and the handsome boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Gus Pike (Michael Mahonen).
Then two years ago, one diehard Road to Avonlea supporter, Ruth Williams of Southfield, Mich., had an idea: She'd organize the first Avonlea Convention. Last July, Toronto's Black Creek Pioneer Village hosted the inaugural event, which drew fans from across Canada, the United States and Hungary. This year, the two-day Avonlea pow-wow -- which has been shortened to AvCon 2005 -- will be held from tomorrow through Sunday at the same venue.
Williams, 45, hopes to attract several hundred Avonlea aficionados. "I figured if fans can organize conventions for Star Trek [the 19th-annual Toronto Trek convention took place recently] and Andy Griffith [thousands flock to Mount Airy, N.C., to celebrate that show's anniversary each September during Mayberry Days], then why can't we?", Williams asks.
Go read the rest of the article, please. Popular/mass culture is monstrously regenerative, isn't it?