O-Town Getdown

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March 28, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla.  - Just when WWE's "WrestleMania Rocks the Block" party looked as if it couldn't possibly get any more frenzied, it most definitely did.

Hillbilly Jim, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Jimmy Hart and "Mean Gene" Okerlund (pictured above) had energized the more than 2,000 fans who packed Downtown Orlando's Wall Street Thursday night. The fab foursome belted out classics such as "I'm a Believer," "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy," and "Bad News" when the already-keyed up crowd spotted six more Superstars who decided to join the party.

Divas Melina, Jillian and Lena Yada, accompanied by Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Jimmy Wang Yang, snapped photos with fans, and autographed everything from scrapbooks and T-shirts to baseball caps and folding metal chairs.

"It's pretty incredible for so many fans to be here for us," said an overwhelmed Melina. "They're giving us a lot of love for what we do, and I really appreciate them for that. I feed off the fans' energy, so the more they want, the more I want to give them."

That enormous well of energy began to overflow in the early evening hours, when WWE set up booths along the street that included free spray-on tattoos, "in-ring" photos and a basketball shooting cage.

"When we heard about [the block party] and getting a chance to meet the Superstars, we couldn't pass that up," said Keith McCarthy, who traveled from Seminole, Fla., with his two sons, Robert and Eric, and his wife, Donna. "We've waited years for WrestleMania to come here, and we're so happy that it did." 

That feeling was no doubt shared by the battery of fans, many who traveled from far and wide to soak in the party atmosphere.

"I came to see the wrestlers, the WrestleMania fans, the WWE legends and just to be here," said Jancarlos Rodriguez, who traveled from New York City with his grandfather, Marcos, himself a longtime fan, to catch WrestleMania XXIV in person.

While the fans were clearly having a blast, they weren't the only ones.

"If I were feeling any better tonight, I think I'd being doing time someplace," said Okerlund in his distinct baritone. "WrestleMania is such a special time of year, and this year is no exception."

It appeared clear that the gorgeous weather, the fan goodwill and the incredible vibe Orlando was offering up had won the hearts of all the Superstars.
 
"What's not to love about Orlando?" chimed in Kendrick, who had lived in O-town for a few years before heading west to California. "I love the people, I love the food, I love everything about it here."

At no time moreso than during WWE's "WrestleMania Rocks the Block" party. As the crowd continued to mingle and the Superstars signed autographs deep into the night, Hillbilly Jim strapped on an acoustic guitar and offered fans one more reason to stick around.

"If you guys keep this up," he shouted, "we're gonna have to hold WrestleMania in Orlando every year!"

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