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Dispensing Joy Through PEZ At C.H. Booth Library



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As Sandy Hook resident Curtis Urbina worked to put some of his personal collection of PEZ dispensers on display at C.H. Booth Library near the start of the month, children and other library patrons looked at the items.

“That’s the beauty of PEZ,” Mr Urbina said recently, adding that PEZ dispensers draw both children and parents in to experience joy. “There is a beauty at watching them both. That’s the joy of collecting PEZ for me.”

The display will be on view in the Children’s Department at C.H. Booth Library through the end of January. It can be viewed any time at the library, at 25 Main Street, is open: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 8 pm; Friday, 11 am to 5 pm; Saturday, 9:30 am to 5 pm; and Sunday, noon to 5 pm.

“The biggest thing is the smile on the kids’ faces,” said Mr Urbina, a coach with Newtown Youth Wrestling Association (NYWA).

Mr Urbina said he has been collecting PEZ dispensers since the early 1970s. He remembers getting PEZ dispensers for Christmas — a fact that makes him guess his first PEZ dispenser was a Santa Claus — but he would “chuck” them away, he said, or throw them in a jar. Then one day in New York City — he was working in the music industry at the time — he passed a five and dime store.

“There they were,” Mr Urbina said. In that moment, he felt a connection to the “good times” of his childhood, he said. He did not think of it as a collection at first, but rather as a “piece of childhood and Americana.” Buying dispensers was manageable and cost efficient; he could throw them in his pocket. In meetings at work, he would have a PEZ dispenser on a table, and he would watch all of the different reactions people would have.

Later, after the launch of eBay, Mr Urbina learned about PEZ collectors. While he was finding Pez dispensers to buy “by the box” at garage sales and antiques sales, people began to know he was collecting. He learned there were other dispensers manufactured in Europe.

Now he estimates he has close to 3,500 PEZ dispensers. He has a large trunk where he stores some, and he takes precautions to keep all of his dispensers safe. For the “super rare” dispensers, he takes extra precautions. Many dispensers need to be kept in a climate controlled environment to protect the candies still tucked inside by the manufacturer.

Mr Urbina’s PEZ dispenser collection was last on display at the library in 2015. Some of the dispensers were designed without feet and have a tendency to fall over. As Mr Urbina was placing them in the cabinet for the current library display, he said parents at the library asked him how they stand up. He showed them small slats he had created to help those items stand.

From The Muppets and Star Wars PEZ dispensers to the “rare” ones from the 1950s and 1960s, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Children’s Department display cabinet at C.H. Booth Library right now.

Curtis Urbina took special care to arrange some of his collection of PEZ dispensers at C.H. Booth Library’s Children’s Department in a way he hopes will help library patrons of all ages find joy. —Bee Photos, Hallabeck
Familiar characters from Sesame Street and The Muppets, some of which are shown here, are among the PEZ dispensers lined up together in the cabinet in the Children’s Department at C.H. Booth Library.
Curtis Urbina’s bride and groom PEZ dispensers are sometimes rented as wedding cake toppers, a trend that he said caused PEZ to manufacture more.
Star Wars PEZ dispensers are part of the display at C.H. Booth Library’s Children’s Department through the end of January.
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