The Prince of Broadway

fullsizeoutput_d54.jpegJustin Trudeau invites Ivanka Trump to join him for a Broadway show about Canada welcoming strangers after 9/11.

“Friends are there for the tough times,” Trudeau told the audience when he took the stage before the show. “That’s what this amazing play is about.”

After the speech, the young prime minister received a standing ovation.

The musical ‘Come From Away,’ written by Canadians David Hein and Irene Sankoff, recounts the stories of the 7,000 grounded travellers after 38 planes were diverted to Gander International Airport, Newfoundland, when U.S. airspace was closed after the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

In the minutes and hours following the destruction of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, the attack on the Pentagon and the tragedy in the sky over Pennsylvania, U.S. bound planes were turned back and the passengers had no choice but to enter a foreign country with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

And they were embraced by the people of Newfoundland.

The town of 10,000 scrambled to accommodate and care for the stranded passengers. Schools, community centers, gymnasiums and churches were commandeered to provide food and shelter for them.

The town’s bus drivers were on strike that day but they walked off their picket lines and went back to work. Bakeries worked overtime, hospitals ramoed up and many of the townspeople opened their homes and offered their beds to the “plane people.”

The local residents found a way to care for the 17 dogs and cats and the two great apes that were on the planes.

Shirley Brooks-Jones, 80, was on her way back home to Ohio from Europe when Delta Flight 15 was diverted to Newfoundland.

After 28 hours on the plane, she and her fellow passengers were bused to the tiny fishing village of Lewisporte, where they spent the next three days. The mayor and most of the residents cooked elaborate meals, let them use their showers and borrow their cars.

tom-mckeon-and-derm-flynn

Tom McKeon (left) was stranded in Appleton after travelling from Ireland to the United States. He stayed in the basement of Appleton Mayor Derm Flynn (right), who was the inspiration for one of the character in the play.

When the travellers walked into stores clerks told them to help themselves to what they needed. Many lifelong friendships, and even romances, were formed on that day.

Said Texan Kevin Tuerff, “The people of Newfoundland restored my faith in humanity.”

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