On April 28, 2000 Good Morning America Comes to LaPorte County!


Good Morning, Michigan City

Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer stepped out of the sleek black Lear jet at Michigan City Municipal Airport Thursday morning, spread her arms and said with a smile, This is beautiful!

Sawyer, co-host Charlie Gibson and weatherman Tony Perkins were in Michigan City Thursday to film a segment of today’s program called Getaway Friday.

Soon, they embarked on an 18.5-mile bike tour across northern LaPorte County, stopping at the Mrozinski farm on County Road 150E, the Hesston Steam Museum on County Road 1000N, Long Beach Community Center and Washington Park at Michigan City’s lakefront, where the day of filming concluded with a beach party.

The scenes will be shown on Good Morning America from 7 to 9 a.m. today on all ABC affiliate television stations, including Channel 7 in Chicago.

Earlier in the week, weather forecasts called for rain, but Thursday’s skies were clear, a bright sun warmed the air and the temperature hovered near 70 degrees the entire afternoon.

The morning-show hosts were greeted at the airport at 11:30 a.m., half an hour ahead of schedule. A select few invited to the airport got an opportunity to see Sawyer and Gibson up close. They patiently posed for photos with spectators and signed autographs on pieces of cardboard and paper, all the while talking graciously with star-struck spectators.

Gibson had a sense of humor and kept the small crowd laughing until the time he left.

Michigan City firefighter Jeff Peckat said to Gibson, I watch you every morning.

Gibson responded, I keep an eye on you, too.

Another spectator asked Gibson if he was prepared to ride the entire bike tour.

I think it’s wussy if you only ride the 18, he replied. You have to ride at least 20.

Pointing to this reporter, Gibson added, Besides, I don’t want her to have to write we only rode 18.

Another spectator commented on the shiny aircraft parked nearby. Without hesitation, Gibson said, Diane rented it for the
day. I can’t afford it.

Gibson vowed to the crowd that if he couldn’t make the entire bike tour, he was going to borrow Michigan City police Cpl. Al
Green’s motorcycle.

I’m going to be on a Harley, Gibson promised.

The GMA crew was whisked off to the Mrozinski farm in rented cars, where they named a 2-week-old Belgian draft colt.

After considering more formal names such as King Charles, Prince Charles and Sir Charles, Gibson and Sawyer settled simply on Charlie.

Mrozinski said when the family was contacted about Good Morning America filming at the family farm, he thought someone was playing a joke.

Is somebody pulling my leg or what? Mrozinski said of his first reaction when told ABC wanted to film the farm. The Mrozinskis were found through the LaPorte County Extension Office, which provided producers with several farm options, Mrozinski said.

As the Good Morning America entourage neared the Hesston Steam Museum sometime around 2 p.m., a steam-train engineer gave two loud blasts of a smoke stack while another welcomed the crew and 300 bicyclists with a higher pitched toot of his train horn.

After spending about an hour at the steam museum, the group prepared to ride nonstop to the Long Beach Community Center, about 13 miles away one rider less.

Five-year-old Jeremy Fralich of Beachwalk in Michigan City wiped out and suffered a minor knee scrape shortly after leaving the Mrozinski farm. The boy was forced to rack his bike on a trailer being pulled by the Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department.

Jeremy entered the ride with his mom and dad, Kathy and Brad Fralich, his sister, Alyssa Fralich, 10, and brothers Brandon Fralich, 14, and Darren Fralich, 11.

Dad Brad said he had a backup plan before the family ever hopped on a bike. Lifting his shirt to reveal a cellular telephone hooked to
his waistband, the elder Fralich said, Cell phone. Grandma and Grandpa. They’re on their way.

Only a few others dropped out of the tour, according to Michigan City Mayor Sheila Brillson, who finished the tour without a problem, although she admitted that those last few hills were a killer.

Meanwhile, all along County Road 1000N, people stood or sat, waiting to get a glimpse of Sawyer and Gibson. They posted signs on fences, wrote messages in chalk on the road and adorned baby strollers with poster board greetings, and people gathered in small
groups at crossroads or in their front yards.

The Kaegebein family at 4997W County Road 1000N set up their lawn chairs early and waited. They waited so long that 16-month-old Amanda Kaegebein gave up after playing outside for the better part of the afternoon and fell asleep in her great aunt Mary Ann Setnicky’s lap.

A large crowd gathered at the Long Beach Community Center and Gibson and Sawyer were immediately encircled by spectators upon their arrival.

They signed autographs, posed for pictures and talked with spectators. When the entourage arrived at Washington Park about 5:30 p.m., an estimated hour behind schedule, there was even a larger crowd waiting, with The Rock Doctors providing live entertainment for the group.

The green-blue water of Lake Michigan provided a perfect backdrop for the morning-show hosts, including GMA weatherman Tony Perkins, who joined the band to belt out Roy Orbisons Pretty Woman.

This is to Diane, Perkins yelled at the song’s conclusion.

Shortly thereafter, two shiny black Lincoln Town Cars arrived. While Perkins and Gibson departed together in the back seat of one, Sawyer was whisked away alone in the other.

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