ALBANY, OR—Shopping for brand-name merchandise at everyday low prices became easier for the greater Albany area Saturday, as the new Westvale Mall opened for business with the help of Richard Dean Anderson, TV's "MacGyver."
"Mr. Anderson, we welcome you to Albany and take great pride in presenting you with this golden key to the Westvale Mall," said Albany deputy mayor Brenda DeLisle at the opening ceremony, which drew an estimated 45 local residents eager for a glimpse of the star.
"It gives me great pleasure to be a part of this momentous occasion," said the scissors-wielding Anderson at the emotional peak of the three-minute ceremony. "I'd rather be shopping than defusing bombs and scaling buildings, that's for sure!"
"Well, thank you all for coming. I hereby open Westvale Mall," added Anderson, who played the role of maverick gadgetry expert MacGyver in the action/adventure series of the same name on ABC from 1985 to 1992. He then severed the yellow plastic ribbon stretching across the mall's main entrance and stood aside as the crowd rushed into the new complex.
"It was wonderful of Mr. Dean Anderson to help open a new mall out here," area resident Paul Davis said. "I think the drive to get here is a little shorter than to the CenterPoint Mall, so that will be good."
"Also," he added, "I hear the mall is going to have a Radio Shack. I'm definitely for that."
Local retiree Helen Coyne, among the first to walk through a tinted glass door held open by Anderson, was also thankful for the star's contribution to the city.
"I don't watch so much television these days, except for my shopping shows," Coyne said. "But Richard D. Anderson was very handsome, and I'm sure his show will be very funny when it comes on."
The formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a "Richard Dean Anderson look-alike contest" held in front of the new Earring Tree inside the mall. "That was pretty cool seeing MacGyver," said area plumber Steve Framisch, who won a $20 J.C. Penney gift certificate by placing second among the three contestants.
The contest, which simply involved Anderson standing in a line with the other three men, was judged by Lauren Ziegler, 1999's Miss Teen Linn County.
"It said on the poster that [Anderson] was on General Hospital, so I asked him about that," Ziegler said. "But it turns out he was on back in the '70s. I was like, 'No wonder I don't remember you. I wasn't even born then!'"
After the contest, Albany Chamber of Commerce President Wallace Crimmon made it "his personal business" to ensure Anderson's comfort and happiness for the remainder of his several-hour stay in Albany.
Crimmon urged the visiting celebrity to order whatever he wanted from any restaurant in the food court "on the house." Then, hovering over Anderson as he drank an Orange Julius drink, he offered him a choice of "Albany: We're Going Places" souvenir T-shirts from the "Made In Oregon" kiosk.
In return, Anderson gave Crimmon, who later described the accomplished actor as "awe-inspiring," his agent's card in case he could be of assistance again in the future.
"As much as I enjoy my many acting projects, I also love having opportunities to come out and meet my public," Anderson said as he quickly signed an autograph for a developmentally disabled mall patron. "It's very rewarding to participate in an exciting event for the shopping community of Alberta."
"I could stay here for a week, if I didn't have a boat show to do in Lincoln City tomorrow," Anderson added. "By the way, what time is it?"