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People began lining up at midnight in order to grab a seat at the public celebration of the life and legacy of J.P. Patches (played for more than 50 years by Chris Wedes) Saturday at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center.

Wedes passed away on July 22 after a long illness.

Wedes' good friend Pat Cashman was the emcee for A Celebration of J.P.Patches.

He was exactly what he was on the screen, Cashman said before the event. He was kind, he was sweet, he was 100 percent good, and kids gravitated towards him because of that. He taught values, but he was also a bit of an insurrectionist as well, kind of a troublemaker, but in a healthy kind of way. Kids liked that too.

Cashman donned red sneakers, an homage to his friend.

I asked J.P. one time 'Why do you wear those shoes, cuz they look funny,' and he said 'they're comfortable!' Always thinking, Cashman joked.

It's called a celebration because Chris Wedes, who played J.P. Patches, brought so many laughs and even a few life lessons to the Northwest for more than 50 years, said event organizer Feliks Banel.

The volunteers and family members involved with putting it all together are sad that he passed away, but we're glad we got to have him around for as long as we did, said Banel.

Cashman was joined onstage by former KING 5 TV host Stan Boreson, who hosted KING's Klubhouse (later to become The Stan Boreson Show ) in the 1950s and '60s.

Boreson received a long standing ovation and cheers from the crowd as he sat down at the piano to perform his signature theme song.

We were friendly rivals, Boreson said of Wedes. I was at KING and he was at KIRO, and we just had good times together.

He was brilliant, and he was the kind of a guy you just wanted to be around, said Bob Newman, who played nearly a dozen characters alongside J.P. He had that magnetic personality. He was just a good guy.

He was never above the audience, and that's the whole name of the game - audience, said Newman.

Former Almost Live host John Keister said I've heard from people who came from very strict backgrounds, very chaotic backgrounds, that (The J.P. Patches Show) was the one place, the one safe place, that they had, to let their imaginations run wild.

Wedes' granddaughter, Christina Frost, spoke fondly of her Gampy.

Grampa taught me a lot during his time here on earth, with both his words and his actions, she said.

He taught me how to drink from a glass without smudging my lipstick, he taught me how to bargain like Jack Benny, and he taught me how to say 'please,' 'thank you' and 'go to hell' in Greek, she joked.

Frost said her grandfather was a veritable Northwest icon who was also a philanthropist, raising thousands of dollars for Seattle Children's Hospital.

He may not have found the cure for cancer or established world peace, but he left a mark on this community, she said. He touched the lives of thousands of people, simply by making them smile.

We're not just losing a member of our community, a friend or a well-known TV show character, we're losing a little piece of our childhood, we're losing a little piece of Seattle, she said.

Another Almost Live alumni, Community star, Joel McHale, delivered a message from the set of his E! show The Soup.

Thank you J.P. for making me laugh and for showing me it's OK for grown men to dress up, wear make-up and be silly, and make money doing it, he said. We will miss you dearly, buddy.

Links

To have an inscription engraved on one of the pavers that surround the Late for the Interurban J.P. Patches and Gertrude statue in Fremont, visit www.historyhouse.org.

J.P. Patches.com

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