What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas…or does it?

They say “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But if you are a fan of Donny and Marie Osmond, you know otherwise. Fans of the brother and sister singing duo love to spread the news about their Osmond adventures, especially on one of the Osmond Facebook groups like Anything Osmond or The D&M Fan Page.

Images of Donny and Marie tower over Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) at the Flamingo Hotel, where they have performed for 11 years.

I was lucky enough to make a trip to Las Vegas last month to see the Donny and Marie show for a bucket list trip to celebrate my 60th birthday. I have a bit of Osmond history and had hoped to attend the Meet and Greet after the show, but there were no tickets available. (For more background on the significance of the Osmonds to me and of this trip, read I’m Leaving it all up to you, Donny. This post is a follow up to that post.)

My friend Cheryl and me arriving in Las Vegas on October 4, 2019 to celebrate my birthday. Let the adventure begin…

While my friend Cheryl and I were in Vegas, Donny and Marie were inducted into the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. The induction ceremony was another chance for me (and probably my last chance) to meet them in person (and fulfill a childhood dream). Humor me as I share about my Donny adventure in Vegas (and for the fans who couldn’t be there).

A Bucket List Trip to Las Vegas

We arrived in Vegas a few hours before the Walk of Stars induction ceremony. We checked in early to our room at the Paris Hotel and had a wonderful outdoor lunch at Mon Ami Gabi with a wide open view of the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and down the Strip. It was a great way to start our weekend adventure.

The view from our table at Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant, Paris Hotel, Las Vegas.

The induction ceremony was a few blocks away at the Flamingo Hotel on the sidewalk near the main entrance to the casino on the Strip. After lunch we walked to the location of the ceremony that was scheduled to start at 3:00. I heard that fans wouldn’t be allowed to show up until 2:30 to prevent people from blocking the sidewalk.

Our view for the Walk of Stars ceremony.

When we walked up to the site at 1:45, there was already a crowd of fans 1 row deep. A stage with a backdrop printed with ‘Donny & Marie’ on it was set up blocking one of the entrance doors. A chest-high barricade was also set up to keep the crowd a short distance from the stage. Security guards were also visible at the site.

Cheryl and I scoped out a place to stand and wait on the Strip side of the barricades. A red piece of fabric and cushions (like kneeling pads) in a square shape surrounded and covered the pavement block where the Star was imbedded into the sidewalk.

Although it was early October, the temperature was in the mid-80s and the Vegas sun was still hot on our backs. Being fair skinned, I put sun screen on my back before we left the hotel. However, some people behind me told me that the back of my neck was getting red. Some nice fans offered to help me cover my neck. The sun intensified the wait, and oh my aching feet!

Pre-Ceremony Activities

To pass the time, I periodically checked some of the Osmond Facebook groups that I belong to. I hoped to meet other Osmond fans from the group. As luck would have it, I noticed a post 1 minute earlier from someone who posted a photo that had the same camera angle that we did. I asked if anyone was ‘Cindy’. The lady in front of me turned around with a surprised look on her face. “I’m Cindy,” she said. (She is a big fan and regularly posts on the Osmond Facebook groups.)

As the time passed, people would stop and ask us what was going on. We’d tell them about the induction ceremony for Donny and Marie. A few tourists stopped to wait, but more so as the time neared 3:00.

Also while waiting, we got to see the framed ‘Walk of Stars’ plaque that Donny and Marie would both receive (similar to how they received Gold Records years ago). The plaques were being displayed by someone on the Flamingo staff (and his wife and son). They walked the plaques around to show the waiting fans.

Half an hour before the ceremony started, the media showed up. They came in with their big cameras, video equipment and tripods. They were closer to the stage (and the Star). Unfortunately, they were now blocking our direct line of vision for the Star’s unveiling.

A Surprise Guest

Shortly after the media arrived, the fans were surprised by the arrival of Alan Osmond, one of Donny and Marie’s older brothers. Alan was the oldest member of the original Osmond Brothers group. He is 70 and has Multiple Sclerosis.

Alan Osmond greets the fans.

We later learned that he wasn’t aware of his sibling’s induction ceremony. Alan and his wife Susan were there to host a prince and princess of Ethiopia for Donny and Marie’s show that night. The fans were thrilled to see Alan in person. He graciously rode his motorized wheelchair along the barricades and shook our hands (including mine).

Of course, as we stood outside waiting in the heat, I took lots of photos and video on my phone. At one point, my camera was so hot, it started to overheat. I had to shut it down. Fortunately, I was double loaded for shooting pictures and also had my large SLR camera with me.

Fifteen minutes before the ceremony started, Donny and Marie’s music was piped through the outdoor PA system. The excitement was definitely building at this point. Some people were singing along, but maybe it was just me.

Introductory comments by Robert Alexander, VP of the Las Vegas Walk of Stars and Damian Costa, vice president of entertainment operations for Caesars Entertainment.

A few minutes before 3:00, the ceremony began with some remarks from Robert Alexander, VP of the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. (Wayne Newton was the first recipient of a star back in 2004.) That speaker was followed by Damian Costa, vice president of entertainment operations for Caesars Entertainment, representing the Flamingo.

Marie, center left, (in her stiletto heels) greets the fans.

Donny & Marie Take Center Stage

The fans cheered and screamed at the introduction of Donny and Marie. They entered from the right of where we were standing. They entered from E. Flamingo Road and walked through an aisle of barricaded fans. Marie surfaced into the center of the area first. They announced Donny’s name several times before he finally emerged from the crowd. He stopped to shake people’s hands, sign autographs, and take photos. (All the while I was hoping he would come our way.)

Donny (center) greets the fans.

When Donny and Marie took the stage, they thanked their fans and spoke about their residency at the Flamingo. Did you know that Donny and Marie have performed more shows in Vegas than Celine Dion and Elvis Presley combined? They included some of their good-natured ribbing in typical Donny and Marie fashion. Donny joked that since they already had the key to the City, he was going to run for Mayor of Las Vegas. Marie countered by saying she would run for President. Fans cheered even louder in response.

Donny and Marie at the Las Vegas Walk of Stars ceremony, October 4, 2019.

A Star is Born

That was followed by the unveiling of their new Star on the Vegas Walk of Stars. My cell phone was working again by this time but our view was partially obstructed by the media. Even with my big zoom lens, I couldn’t get a good photo of the unveiling. But I snapped away regardless.

From Marie Osmond’s social media post on Instagram.

The unveiling of the star was followed by lots of media attention. Donny and Marie posed with the dignitaries, and others including their brother Alan. Cheryl and I (along with the fans) patiently stood waiting and hoping for our chance to meet Donny and Marie. I didn’t know what to expect next. I hadn’t really thought any of this through in advance. I only knew that I had traveled from Washington State hoping to meet him.

Donny, Marie, Alan and Susan Osmond, and a prince and princess of Ethiopia.

My Chance to Meet Donny

I wanted to get that long lost photo with Donny in person. So when it seemed like Donny was leaving (on the opposite side of the barricaded area), I tried to get his attention by yelling his name. I think that other fans followed suit, because he turned around and headed in our direction. Now I was nervous. What next? What would I say? Would I get a moment of his time to talk? Would he remember that day on the set of Northwest Afternoon?

He walked along the barricade heading towards me while shaking people’s hands. My heart started racing. The main thing that ran through my mind was getting a photo with Donny. But how? Cheryl and I were separated by a few people. The memory from the last time I met Donny 20 years ago was fresh in my mind. I was reliving it all over again (when no one volunteered to take our photo together). I was juggling cameras and trying to take photos—all the while trying to keep my wits about me. And here he came…

My moment was gone in an instant. Donny wasn’t stopping for anyone. He quickly shook his fans’ hands and went to the next person. He DID shake my hand and…more than that, I don’t know what got into me…I kissed Donny’s hand. If you are an Osmond fan, you’ll understand why and what happened inside of me. (I’ve read similar reactions and experiences from others in the Osmond Facebook groups). As crazy as it may seem, I felt like a teenager again—swept away off my feet–like A Teenager in Love.

It all happened so quickly, but it wasn’t over yet. Marie came over to our area as well. She was more deliberate with her fans, shaking hands and stopping for photos. I wasn’t able to get a photo with her, but I did shake her hand. Of course, I took photos as best as I could along the way too.

Marie stops for a photo with a fan.

I was giddy with delight and in somewhat of a state of shock for the next few hours. Back at our hotel room, we unwound from the afternoon’s events over a drink and watched the story on the local TV news station.

The Donny and Marie afterglow…

Life is Just What You Make It

While our tickets to the show weren’t until the next night, this event was really the highlight of my Donny weekend. (And it wasn’t even announced until after we had our tickets to Vegas that weekend). I didn’t get any other chances to personally meet him. So maybe I’ll never get that elusive photo with Donny Osmond. If I ever get another chance, and if I want it bad enough, I know that you have to not be shy in ASKING and trying to get his attention.

I can’t imagine what life would be like in the stoplight like that. It’s all that Donny and Marie have ever known though. I’ve heard that Donny thrives on it. So maybe someday, after the Donny and Marie show comes to an end (in a few days) and he goes on his world tour, I’ll get another chance. For now, I’m content with the memories, and my A Million to One shot at meeting Donny Osmond in Las Vegas.

We were here! (What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas!)

Thank you Donny and Marie for such great musical and whimsical memories throughout my life and your millions of devoted worldwide fans.

Donny Osmond Facebook post after the Walk of Stars ceremony.

I’m Leaving It All Up To You, Donny

If you are a Donny or Marie Osmond fan, you will immediately recognize the reference in the above blog post title to a famous song they sang, I’m Leaving It All Up To You. This weekend, I’m placing my fate, the chance to meet Donny, in his hands. And maybe with a little help from Above, it will happen. And here’s why…

Bucket List Weekend in Vegas

This weekend I am traveling to Las Vegas with my friend Cheryl to celebrate my 60th birthday. This is sort of a bucket list event for me. We’ve been planning this for several months with one purpose in mind—to see the Donny and Marie show. Next month, Donny and Marie will be ending their 11-year run at the Flamingo Hotel.

Donny’s announcement of their star from his Facebook page.

While it was my heart’s desire to attend one of the nightly Meet and Greet events they hold after the show, we were not able to get those coveted tickets. Shortly after we booked our flights and bought tickets for the show, we heard that Donny and Marie were being inducted into the Las Vegas Walk of Stars on October 4 (the day we arrive).

Maybe my chances are increasing to meet him. At the very least, this weekend will definitely have an Osmond theme to it. My friend Cheryl and I will be in teeny-bopper heaven—like A Teenager in Love! (That’s a Donny song from 1972.)

Yes, I’m just like millions of other crazed women of my generation who dreamed of meeting Donny.  Humor me as I share some of the background for why this trip is so significant to me. I’ve got A Million to One shot of meeting him. (Yes, that’s another Donny song.)

My Osmond History

I’ll start by sharing something I wrote in my scrapbook when I last met Donny 20 years ago. Yes it was a dream come true—almost perfect—as you’ll see—almost.

Wednesday, June 30, 1999 is what I affectionately call ‘Donny Day.’ It was a day in my life when many of my teenage dreams came true.

Back in junior high school when I was about 12-13 years old, I was a huge fan of the Osmond Brothers music group and especially the lead singer Donny. I had my room plastered with posters. I had all of their albums (and probably 45’s too). I read all the teen magazines. I dreamt so much about them that I even wrote a story about them. Much to my disappointment, I never got to see them in concert.

As an adult I continued to carry a fascination with the Osmonds and followed their lives through the media. In 1989, Donny was doing a national tour including a stop in Seattle. Much to my amazement, my husband agreed to take me to the concert. Donny was promoting his Soldier of Love album/CD. My husband and I loved the concert. I had turned my husband into a Donny Osmond fan!

Autographed Soldier of Love CD

After the show, we waited outside the theater by Donny’s bus. I was hoping to meet him, but I was not alone. The bus was surrounded by fans. Donny came out to the bus and pushed his way through the crowd shaking hands along the way. As luck would have it, I got to shake his hand. What a thrill for me. It had finally happened!

Almost ten years later in the fall of 1998, Donny and Marie got their own talk show. Now I could get my fill of Donny on a daily basis. In spring of 1999, I saw Donny being interviewed on the Today show. He was promoting his new autobiography, Life Is Just What You Make It: My life So Far. I knew I would have to get his book. (I’m reading it again now to get pumped for our trip.)

Not much later after seeing that interview, I woke up one morning to hear the DJ on my husband’s radio alarm talking about Donny coming to town. I excitedly started researching when and where he would be locally. I expected he would be promoting his book and doing book signings. I came up empty-handed though. I tried the radio station. They didn’t know where—just the date he would be in town—June 30—2 days away!!!

I called KOMO TV (a local television station in Seattle) to see if Donny would be on Northwest Afternoon. SUCCESS! Yes, he would and they still had seats available. I booked 2 seats—not knowing who I would get to go with me. (After all I was a closet Donny Osmond fan.)

On the set of NW Afternoon (one page from my scrapbook)

I had to simultaneously find a friend to attend with me and a babysitter for my kids. As a backup plan, I would take my oldest son, who was 6 years old at the time. I thought he would enjoy seeing the filming of a live TV show from behind the scenes. I was thrilled to find a friend, Kris, who was also a big Donny fan, but she couldn’t make the babysitter connections for her kids. So I took my son. Kris watched from home.

Once I knew I was going, I bought Donny’s new book—maybe I could get it autographed! The day of the show I was a nervous wreck. It was going to be a busy day trying to juggle my kid’s commitments and still make it to downtown Seattle in time for the show. Before I left the house, I made sure to set the VCR to record the show.

That’s as far as I wrote back then. I’m sure life got in the way and I never came back to finish that scrapbooking page. But the photos are on the pages, and I will never forget what happened. So I’ll pick up the story after we arrived at the studio.

Donny Osmond Day on Northwest Afternoon

It seemed like a small studio audience, less than 100 people, but it was totally filled with Osmond fans. Before the show, we told there would be a “Q & A” segment and to have questions ready to ask Donny. I was so nervous that I wrote down my question on a checking deposit slip, the only paper I could find in my purse. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget: “How does he juggle the new show, book tour and family?”

On the set of NW Afternoon

It was very surreal to be there—so close to someone I had idolized as a teen and admired as an adult. I was able to ask my question. I was so nervous!! Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was put on a split screen view with Donny while I asked the question on TV. (I was pleasantly surprised to see this later on the video tape.)

Sharing the screen with Donny while I ask my question.

The best part of the program was actually during the commercial breaks. Donny would rush out to the audience, shake hands, autograph items and have pictures taken with his fans. Of course, I raised my hand to have Donny come our way. He signed a CD and his autobiography for me: “To Ardis, Love Donny Osmond”.

In the audience signing autographs

My Donny Moment

I asked Donny for a photo and of course, he was happy to oblige. I came prepared with my SLR 35mm film camera. (That was back before cell phones.) The problem was that my 6-year-old son couldn’t use it to take my photo. I asked if someone would take our photo, but no one volunteered.

Then the co-host of the show, Kent Phillips, offered to do it for us. The commercial break was coming to an end and Donny grabbed my hand and whisked me away to the set. (He didn’t really whisk me away, but hey, it’s my dream.)

Having my photo taken by co-host Kent Phillips.

Kent had my camera in his hands and was taking my photo on the set with Donny when the show was on-air again. Kent made some comments about returning from the commercials and that he was taking our photo. It was truly a special moment.

On the set with Donny and back from the commercial break.

Kent then directed me back to my seat in the audience. As he handed me the camera, he whispered in my ear, “I didn’t hear anything. I don’t know if it took any photos.”

I was aghast. Was the camera off? That was my biggest fear. But I wouldn’t know for sure until I developed the film. I tried to take my mind off of that possibility.

After the show I hung out by the TV station entrance and took photos of Donny as he left. It was a dreamy fairy tale like day! As I mentioned Kris watched the show from home. It was fun to virtually share the experience with her. I also remember hearing from a family member who saw me on TV, but didn’t know I was at the show.

Donny leaving KOMO television station after the show.

Once I came back to reality and had my film developed, I was devastated to learn that my worst fear came true—there were no pictures of Donny and me on the film. Fortunately, all was not lost. I took the video tape to a recording company who created some photos from the video tape. The photos were pretty blurry, just like a paused show on the TV screen. And remember this was 20 years ago.

While digging through my scrapbook, I also found another piece of fun Donny memorabilia. It was an email from a friend sent a few years later.

Hi Ardis, Just had to let you know I was watching NW Afternoon today and they were showing that Donny Osmond was going to be tomorrow’s guest and they showed an excerpt from the show he was on last time he was here and it showed the clip of Kent taking your picture with Donny Osmond on the set. It was fun to see. Just had to let you know.

Anticipating Donny Day 2019

So that was my Donny moment. As I said it was “Donny Day” for me. Now I’m expanding it into “Donny Weekend”. Will I be able to get a real photo with Donny and meet him again? Would he even remember that show? It was so special to me and thankfully is immortalized in my scrapbook to cherish forever.

So Donny, I’m leaving it all up to you, and the Lord above. Maybe we’ll meet again in Las Vegas! What are the odds? A million to one?

Update 11/12/2019: I had a million to one moment with Donny and Marie on my Donny weekend in Vegas. You can read all about it in What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas…or does it?.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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