Monday, Jun 24, 2019

Saunders visits game show

Mike Saunders and his mother, Carol Saunders, attended a taping of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal” this summer. The episode will be broadcast at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24. COURTESY PHOTO

When Mike Saunders, owner of Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, 107 Sumner St., watched an episode of “Let’s Make a Deal” before seeing his daughter off to school one morning, the last thing he expected was to be on a plane to California to attend the taping of a show.

Thanks to the determination of his daughter, 8-year-old Addy, Saunders found himself, along with his daughter, mother Carol Saunders and father Lynn Saunders, on a plane in the middle of June.

“I thought it would be fun to try to get tickets, so I went online, tried a random date over the summer and assumed I would be put on a waiting list or have to try a couple times. The next thing I knew I had free tickets,” Saunders said.

“I didn’t think I was crazy enough for the show, so I didn’t think I’d actually go. If you’ve ever seen ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ everyone is high energy,” Saunders explained.

Over the months that followed, he had to make a choice. He needed to make sure that he could take the days off work. He needed to buy plane tickets, and he needed to figure out how to make his daughter a part of the experience despite not being old enough to attend the taping.

Then, the decision was made for him.

“My mom called out of the blue and said she had the [ticket] days off. When she said that, I only had three or four weeks to get airline tickets. And then I had to think about who would watch Addy, and so my dad came, too.”

The four flew to California, and Saunders wore his homemade costume, which he said was his way of bringing Addy to the audience. He created a selfie phone costume.

“I went to Hobby Lobby and grabbed fabric and chair-cushion material. ... My costume was literally kept together with Velcro and a prayer,” he joked.

“I put a picture of my daughter and me on the screen and made it look like an iPhone,” Saunders said.

His mother dressed as a broken bowling pin.

His father took Addy to an arcade while Saunders and his mother waited in line for an hour and a half.

After the wait, Saunders described what happened next as a whirlwind of activity and high-energy producers.

“They screen test all contestants to check for enthusiasm,” he said.

Saunders and his mother waited in line to be interviewed and prepared to kick up their energy level.

“My mom was a little nervous since there were only two of us – and she was worried we wouldn’t project enough energy, but once the cameras started rolling, we made a lot of noise and they started asking us questions, and we were really getting into it,” Saunders said.

He recalled that they asked a lot of questions, and, as the excitement was building, they asked him what he did for a living.

“I had to keep up the excitement level but felt awkward about getting excited about being a funeral director,” he said.

The interviewer transitioned well, coming back with, “You are an enthusiastic funeral director,” Saunders said. Soon Saunders and his mother were seated in the audience.

“It was really an exciting experience,” he said. “If you have the chance to go out there, get tickets. I was exhausted because the producers really want you animated and excited the whole time. But, I was so excited to be in the audience and be able to have these pictures and have my daughter possibly see me on television. And, I was so happy to be able to bring her with me – as a picture on my selfie phone.”

Saunders cannot reveal anything about the episode, but it is scheduled to run at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24, on CBS.