FRED came out of retirement this spring thanks to the skills of Paul Coryell, his engineer-designer and sidekick Phillip Foust. The guys brought FRED to my April book promo booth at the Marshfield, Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, and to my May book signing day at Whimsy store in Lebanon, MO.
My Cherry Blossom Festival booth was inside the old high school gym, with vendors' tables lined up the length and breadth of the gym. Paul and Philip installed a freshly charged battery in FRED, put a new rubber band in his robotic arm, tucked my sign under his arms and sent him up and down the aisles. He was a hit! At one point, Paul was pummeled with questions from a couple of curious kids about FRED as he stood in the bleachers with the controller. As FRED boogied up and down the aisles, Philip substituted a beach ball for my book sign. One little guy in a wheelchair (that had light-up wheels) followed FRED and a super sweet encounter happened when Paul, high in the bleachers, made FRED stop and whirl around so he and the wheelchair little boy were face to face. The little guy let out a whoop - so excited!
Mr. Gibson, the teacher during the FRED year at CHS joined us and Paul and Phillip had a catchup reunion with him. Great fun! It was thrilling to see FRED come alive again, and to hear about Paul and Phillip's college experiences.