In 2004, after many visits to Walt Disney World in Florida, my family and I headed west to Walt's original theme park — Disneyland.
In the late afternoon, we found ourselves on Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim via Las Vegas after a four-hour drive through the Mojave Desert. Our hotel, a Holiday Inn on Harbor at the corner of Ball Road, overlooked the back of It's a Small World. Peeking out from just beyond the tops of some shielding trees was the ominous white spire of Space Mountain.
Since it was so late in the day, we decided to experience Disneyland beginning bright and early the next morning. We set out to briefly explore the neighborhood and to look for a store to purchase some snacks and drinks to sneak into the park the next day. We climbed into our rental car and drove north on Harbor Boulevard toward a huge knot of strip malls, open-air shopping centers and fast-food restaurants.
A huge red and white Target sign beckoned to us like a familiar friend. We knew Target and we love Target. They're sure to have everything we needed. My wife navigated the car through the crowded parking lot towards the entrance which faced away from the busy street. We scouted the area for an open parking space when we spotted a rather large section noticeably absent of cars. As we drew closer, we saw seven or eight Anaheim police vehicles parked in a semi-circle in the open area. We pulled around the last cruiser and were greeted by the sight of a dozen or so uniformed officers, some with their guns drawn. Sitting on the ground, cross-legged, was a young man. His arms were up and bent at the elbows. His hands were resting on the crown of his head, the fingers laced. He looked up at the policemen, some of whom had a revolver pointed at him. He looked worried.
We quickly found a parking space at the other end of the lot. As we entered the store, my son noted that just a few blocks from the dire scene playing out before our eyes was The Happiest Place on Earth. We laughed.
I'm sure that young man did not.