Glee club founder has a passion for toys
November 19, 2010
Pam Dion doesn’t sing, but her daughter does and loves it. When Dion found out there wasn’t a choir elective at her daughter’s elementary school, she got a "wild idea." She started one of her own. Now, 48 kids ages 5 to 14 gather twice a week at St. Mary’s Church to sing and dance their little hearts out. Park City Glee meets from 4 to 5 o’clock every Tuesday and Thursday.
"I saw a need in the community and I filled it," the Park City mom, event planner and kids’ toy designer explains. "My daughter has a very nice voice and she loves to sing. I figured there were other kids in town that loved to sing too. I talked to some parents and they really liked the idea. I opened my mouth and then I just had to do it." That’s how she rolls. It’s been that way since long before she moved to Park City for the second time in 1995.
Dion, a Pennsylvania native, grew up blessed with an active imagination and a creative mind. She describes herself as "very outgoing, I hope funny, and not so shy." She was a tomboy at heart as a young child, though she loved to play dress up and make believe for hours on end. Later, she enjoyed surfing while spending her summers on the Jersey shore. She was on skis at age six and was a racer on the East Coast circuit in her teens and 20s.
Her love of skiing, and a brother who had found Park City first, brought her to town the first time in 1982. She stayed, skied and attended the University of Utah for the next four years before moving on to San Francisco. She took a job at Nordstrom and set out to learn the retail business.
While she was working there, Dion’s childhood imagination and creativity reemerged in a most unusual way. "I designed an outfit to wear to a Grateful Dead concert, tie-dyed it myself." she recalls. "I wore the outfit to work the next day and my boss, a Nordstrom buyer, really liked it and wanted to buy the design."
Dion declined the offer. Instead, she had several hundred of the outfits made and sold them back to the upscale store. "It was great! I was just 21 years old and never dreamed someone would want to buy my designs." That marked the beginning of a long run in the apparel design and sales business for Dion. After she designed a line of clothing for children, Sesame Street Clothing knocked on her door. She worked for that company for five years as a designer and sales representative.
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But Dion missed skiing on Utah snow and made the move back in 1995. "I wanted to come back to Park City and give it a second try. I always loved this little town," she says. She continued to work in the apparel business and also began designing toys for children. "That’s where my real passion is," says Dion, who eschews battery-powered toys and games in favor of "old-fashioned" dress-up and role playing toys. "I want kids to look in the mirror and imagine something they want to do or be. No electronics, nothing with computer animation, all strictly hands-on," she insists. "Anything that has to do with pretend play is a cool thing. The batteries never run down on a child’s imagination."
She met Dennis Dion on a blind date arranged by her sister-in-law. "He was very charming with a great sense of humor, and that was all it took," she blushes. They were married in 1996. Daughter Sophia arrived in 2000, while Dion was in the midst of developing and marketing a licensed line of clothing and hats for the 2002 Winter Olympics. "We thought we were in deep trouble after 9/11," she says. "We’d ordered 60,000 bear, rabbit and coyote hats from China and didn’t know how the tragedy would affect the Olympics. We got a lot of publicity with the hats on national TV, the Today Show, Regis and Kelly, and Late Night with Letterman, and it all turned out OK."
Dion rose to a new challenge when she agreed to plan the Fuji Film Sundance party, an annual event that attracts well over a thousand people in the movie business. "My husband, who was in the film business, talked me into it." The event was a great success and is now the longest running party in Deer Valley during Sundance.
"It’s a pretty cool gig," says Dion, who is already neck deep in the planning stages for next January’s event.
That first party marked the birth of Dion Events, her Park City-based event planning business. Over the years she has expanded her service to include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and bar mitzvahs.
After moving here twice, Dion is firmly anchored in Park City. "This is a beautiful town that offers so much opportunity for families and businesses. Best of all, it’s full of great people," she says.
"Park City Glee" is among the newest opportunities in town for young children. Dion has a clear vision for the glee club. "I want to see an affordable program in Park City that is noncompetitive in a safe, fun environment, a place for kids to get together and share their unique talents. Most children love to sing and dance. I’m excited to encourage children to have fun, gain confidence and express themselves through music."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com
Favorite things to do: "Ski, surf when I can, and ride my new cruiser bike"
Favorite foods: Seafood and Mexican
Favorite authors: Stephen King, "creepy" vampire books and anything on Oprah’s list
Favorite performers/music: John Mayer, reggae and ’80s dance music
Animal companions: Cinco, a 16-year-old cat from Friends of Animals that loves to fetch; Cody, a one-year-old "borky" (bischon/yorkie mix, "a momma’s boy."