KVML Celebrates Global Beatles Day

“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “There’s a Global Beatles Day? Since when? Who started it? And why would the Kurt Vonnegut Library be celebrating it?”

Why, yes, there is a Global Beatles Day! Don’t be upset if you didn’t know of it. It’s only been around for about eight years. Indiana native Faith Cohen, a lifelong fan of the Beatles, founded it. As a child, Cohen “latched onto [the Beatles] like a hungry baby to the breast” and remembers staying up past her bedtime to watch Paul McCartney perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. 

“I was very concerned why he seemed so sad,” said Cohen on her website. “I thought he was crying. I didn’t realize he was just sweating under the lights.”

Decades later, Cohen came up with the idea for Global Beatles Day.

“Over the years I had heard of silly holidays like ‘Talk like a Pirate Day’ . . .” said Cohen.  “I thought, if those days can make it to a calendar, why can’t a holiday dedicated to the Beatles?”

A schedule and promotion poster for the KVML Global Beatles Day event, designed by Bianca Peña.

Cohen chose June 25 for Global Beatles Day because the Beatles performed on TV at the first-ever global satellite transmission on the same day in 1967. This year was special because it marked the 50th anniversary of both that day and the Beatles’ famous album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

At the talk she gave at KVML’s Global Beatles Day event on Saturday, June 25, Cohen explained the purpose of the holiday.

“It is not a moneymaking holiday . . . [it’s just] a thank-you or love letter to the Beatles.”

Buttons designed by Bianca Peña to promote the event.

Cohen uses a quote from Kurt Vonnegut on nearly every part of her Global Beatles Day website. The quote reads, “I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘The Beatles did.’”

Chris Lafave, the KVML Curator, connected the Beatles and Vonnegut together in his speech at our Global Beatles Day event.

“[Vonnegut] could make jokes about religion, weaponry, and the end of the world . . . He touched on some things that were really frightening and was able to make them more palatable. The Beatles kind of did that too.”

Lafave, left, and Cohen, right, speak at the Global Beatles Day event.

The event’s activities, all of them free and kid-friendly, centered on both the Beatles and Kurt Vonnegut. Inside the museum, visitors could type on a replica of Vonnegut’s typewriter and match each member of the Beatles to a song he wrote and the instrument he played. They could also take photos with Vonnegut quote signs and dance to Beatles tunes while they waited.

Outside, visitors could color with chalk, get their faces painted, color pictures of yellow submarines and Kurt Vonnegut, and write a sentence or two on the papers headed by Beatles song lyrics. For the prompt “When I’m 64,” one visitor wrote, “I will be a grandma!” Another wrote, “I will be younger!” By the end of the event, the papers were cluttered with sentences and abstract doodles from the younger crowd.

Kids line up to get their faces painted.

There was also a scavenger hunt that sent visitors to various activities, rewarding them with Popsicles when they found all the clues. One clue required participants to visit the Pathways to Peace Garden across the street.

Given the Beatles’ promotion of peace and tolerance in their work and Lafave’s statement that Vonnegut was a “radical pacifist,” the trip to the Peace Garden was fitting. Lafave also told the story of Vonnegut’s visit to a hippie commune. A resident said the members of the commune planned to be the last people on earth.

“Isn’t that kind of a stuck-up thing to want to be?” said Vonnegut.

Those who celebrate Global Beatles Day would agree. After all, if all you need is love, you can keep going for a pretty long time. And the best way to do that is to spread love in as many directions as possible so everyone else can keep going, too.

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