By Michael Buckhoff, Walt Disney Archives
Most today would not immediately recognize the man standing with Walt Disney near the central hub of Disneyland in 1964, but if you have enjoyed a fireworks spectacular at the park you have Tommy Walker to thank. Son of Disneyland bandleader, Vesey Walker, Tommy served as band director at the University of Southern California. After seeing USC’s halftime show in 1955, Walt Disney asked Walker to come join him as the Entertainment Director for his soon-to-open theme park in Anaheim. Walker planned the opening day festivities and would later go on to help organize events such as Dixieland at Disneyland and Disneyland After Dark. He would also serve as Pageantry Director for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. Walker’s suggestion for fireworks at Disneyland was so popular that they would eventually become a mainstay, a nightly extravaganza.