Jakers! Cast Honors Grandparents

In celebration of National Grandparents Day (Sept. 12), Mike Young of Mike Young Prods. and the talented voice cast of the 3D-animated PBS Kids series, Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks came out to show support for the National Grandparents Day Council and grandparents everywhere, especially Grandparents of the Year Dan and Sally Robinson of Kansas City, Missouri.

Wednesday’s event was held at PBS affiliate KCET Studios in Hollywood, Calif. On hand to meet fans of all ages were voice actors Maile Flanagan (Piggley Winks), Charlie Adler (Mr. Hornsby/Da Winks), Minnie Mouse voice Russi Taylor (Ferny Toro), Mickey Mouse mouthpiece Wayne Allwine, Melissa Disney (Meg), Candi Milo (Gosford), Susan Silo (Miss Nanny) and Fernando Escandon (Don Toro).

Absent was comedy legend and Jakers! voice cast member Mel Brooks, who had previous commitments. Mike Young spoke on his behalf, noting "Mel has a granddaughter, and he fundamentally came onto the show for her. It’s always great when we in this industry can do things for our loved ones." He adds, "Grandparents and the invaluable contributions they make to their grandchildren’s lives are a year-round theme on our series. So we’re delighted to join the National Grandparents Day Council in recognizing these real-life role models, who, like our Grandpa Piggley, provide inspiration, wisdom, support and an endless supply of love to their grandchildren."

The Grandparents Day Council annually selects state and national Grandparents of the Year through contests for grandchildren that involve poetry writing, essay writing, songwriting, webdesign, art and photography. The Robinsons, who were nominated by their granddaughter, Natalie Windham of Prairie Village, Kansas, were honored as both the Missouri state winners and national winners of the contest and received a VIP trip to Southern California.

Also honored was California Grandparent of the Year, Jo Fogg of Malibu, whose great-great-granddaughter, 5-year-old Delaney Poist of Long Beach, Calif., submitted the winning poster.

Flanagan, who beat out 300 to 400 Irish boys for the role of Piggley Winks, says her grandparents on both sides came from Ireland and working on the show has given her a deeper appreciation of the world they grew up in. She also tells us she loves playing Piggley because he’s not the typical cartoon character. "He’s smart and he’s a leader, but he makes mistakes and ties to get out of things," she remarks. "Most cartoon heroes are squeaky clean, but he has a tendency to rope people into things they don’t want to do."

National Grandparents Day was founded by Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia, and a long-time champion of the elderly. At her urging, president Jimmy Carter proclaimed it a national event in 1978 and set aside the first Sunday after Labor Day each year to celebrate.

Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly Winks airs on PBS stations around the country. Check local listings for airdates or visit www.pbskids.org/jakers.

Photo: Candi Milo mugs for the camera, Fernando Escadon and Charlie Adler share a laugh. Russi Taylor signs autographs.