REMINDER: Only 357 Days until Taft’s Diamond Jubilee – The Taft Oildorado, Inc. celebrating Taft’s 100th birthday, October 15th to the 24th, 2010 and dedication of Oil Worker’s Monument. The year 2010 will also be the 100th anniversary of the world famous Lakeview Gusher – the grand daddy of all gushers – between Taft and Maricopa – that spewed out 9,000,000 barrels of oil over a year and a half before it stopped flowing.

REMINDER: Only 357 Days until Taft’s Diamond Jubilee – The Taft Oildorado, Inc. celebrating Taft’s 100th birthday, October 15th to the 24th, 2010 and dedication of Oil Worker’s Monument. The year 2010 will also be the 100th anniversary of the world famous Lakeview Gusher – the grand daddy of all gushers – between Taft and Maricopa – that spewed out 9,000,000 barrels of oil over a year and a half before it stopped flowing.

Taft, Tinsel Town joins hands against hunger (In Part)
By Teresa Watanabe
Mercury News Los Angeles Bureau

Monday, January 20, 1986, San Jose Mercury News
TAFT – Diahann Carroll wore a full-length mink. Kathy Murch donned Levi’s and tennis shoes. Dyan Cannon swept up in a limo, Scott Bush clattered up in his four-wheeled drive. For lunch, Kenny Rogers was catered Santa Maria steaks. Wendy Carroll downed free hot dogs and coke.
Those distinctions aside, Hollywood’s stars and Taft’s blue collar townsfolk were just plain old Americans on Saturday. For four hours in the main street of this dusty Kern County oil town, they linked hands, joined voices in song and shared a purpose to help the hungry and homeless in America…This is anywhere, U.S.A. or so Hollywood believes. That’s why Taft was chosen as the setting for a star-studded video promoting “Hands Across America”.
It was all for the cause of “Hands Across America”, the latest project launched by United Support of Artists for Africa – the group that produced the “We are the World” album for African famine relief.
Now USA for Africa is targeting problems closer to home. The Taft video filmed Saturday, scheduled to be broadcast next Sunday during the Super Bowl, was designed to coax as many as 10 million Americans to form a human chain from New York to Los Angeles on May 25 to raise money for America’s needy.
For many of those involved, the ambitious project was awakening feelings of patriotism and social responsibility, striking chords broader and deeper than have similar relief efforts for African famine or Mexican earthquake victims.
More than 100 celebrities made the trip to Taft.
Each month, an estimated 10 million to 20 million American go hungry.
As many as 2.5 million people are homeless. And, the problems are rapidly getting worse. The US Conference of Mayors reported that the demand for emergency food assistance will grow this year in more than 80 percent of cities surveyed.
The suffering behind these statistics is all too familiar to Ken Kragen and Kenny Rogers. Both have long donated time to hunger relief project.
In October, after “We are the World” proved a resounding success; they began looking around for other trouble spots and quickly found one.
“We are the only industrialized country in the world with this type of hunger,” Kragen said.
In a few months, Kragen and others have assembled thousands of volunteers to plan and promote the May 25 event and curry millions of dollars in donations from individual and corporations. At a minimum of $10 per person to stand in line, organizers hope the 4,000-mile chain through 18 states raises $50 million and $100 million.
The organizers are banking on reaching million more Americans by broadcasting their three-minute video for free  - courtesy of NBC-TV at 3 p.m. during the broadcast of the venerable American institution, the Super Bowl.
With a Panavision camera perched atop a 27-ton crane, filming began at 1 p.m. Saturday. Bob Giraldi, billed as the nation’s leading commercial and music video director, agreed to donate hi time to direct the spot.
The day began at 10 a.m., when more than 1,200 Taft residents showed up at the Fox Theater from polyester to sequined cowboy hats to learn the video’s theme song. Like a revivalist preacher, Kragen declared to the crowd, “You are just as important as the celebrities.” Then coached them on the simple but catchy tune: “Hands across this land I love/Divided we fall/United we stand/Hands across America.”
Earlier, Giraldi crews had planted giant white sun reflectors and mammoth stereo speakers along the five-block backdrop of auto repair shop, hardware store, a barber shop and country music bar. Fluttering American flags lined the route; ten of the town’s police officers guarded the barricades of white rope and orange markers.
At 11 a.m. three Greyhound buses and private cars deposited the likes of Morgan Fairchild, Sheena Easton, Rossana Arquette, Marlon Jackson and Dr. Joyce Brothers at “The Skate Escape” roller rink on Main Street.
While the paparazzi clicked away, begging the stars to smile, a couple of dozen fans stood behind the ropes and waved.
It was not a terrible big deal for Taft. Just last year, “Best of Times,” starring Kurt Russell and Robin Williams, was filmed here. Hollywood likes this sleepy town of 6,000 people – mostly oil workers - because its just two hours north of Los Angeles and could pass for Anywhere, U.S.A. It has no traffic lights, still has carhops and got its first McDonald’s just last year.
“This is an event done by and for Americans. We wanted a small-town neighborhood community, one that showed the traditional values,” national director Fred Doss said.
On this sunny up-beat day, the movie stars and fans stood intermingle in line, exchanging small talk and autographs. When the recorded music began to boom, the cameras began passing along the route, capturing the unbroken chain of smiling and singing Americans.
At 4:45 p.m. it was a wrap.

…A ‘media event’
Daily Midway Driller, Tues. Jan. 21, 1986
‘Hands Across America’ celebrity (partial) list
Eddie Albert, Edward Albert, Jr., Susan Anton, Rosanna Arquette, Robert Blake, Dr. Joyce Brothers, The Busboys, Dyan Cannon, Robert Carrodine, Diahann Carroll, Jackie Cooper, Cathy Lee Crosby, Billy Davis, Jr., Morgan Fairchild, Shari Belefonte-Harper, Marlon Jackson, Melissa Manchester, Kristy McNichol, Kenny Rogers, Sha Na Na, Meg Tilly, Charlene Tilton, Kathy Valentine, Anso William and Edwin Moses.