Baltimore Symphony staffer among those heading to Australia courtesy of Oprah
Sarah Haller, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's PR and publications coordinator, might not think about asking for leave from her job in December, what with the rush of the annual Holiday Spectacular and all. But, heck, how often do you get invited by Oprah Winfrey to take an expenses-paid trip to Australia for 10 days -- with John Travolta flying the plane?
Haller and her mom were in Oprah's TV studio last week, expecting a fun time to be sure at the taping of the super-host's show (it aired Monday), but not something of this magnitude. "My mom was selected as one of Oprah's 'ultimate viewers' and I went with her to Chicago," says Haller, 27, a highly effective member of the BSO's staff, as we press-types can attest. "We were just members of the audience, and we got this awesome prize."
As you've no doubt heard, all 300 people in attendance that day will receive the trip, just another of Oprah's simple little gestures of appreciation for her lucky fans. "Everyone started flipping out when we realized what was happening," Haller says. "I really didn't hear too much of what was being said. I was too busy screaming."
The lucky folks will
Although Haller's mother earned the attention of Oprah's people with her "ultimate viewer" entry (she has been watching since Oprah's Baltimore TV days), Haller and her older sister are big fans, too. "My mom raised us on Oprah, for better or worse," she says with a laugh.
When she got back from Chicago, Haller passed along the second prize last week's audience won -- a Motorola smart phone -- to her sister and, as an extra placation, offered to do a lot of babysitting in the future.
Haller did have one tiny qualm about the Australian adventure -- getting into a plane piloted by Travolta. She felt a lot better when she heard that the actor is a part-time flier for Qantas and has made the trip before.
AP PHOTO OF OPRAH WINFREY AND SOME OF THE TRIP-WINNING AUDIENCE MEMBERS; PHOTO OF SARAH HALLER (center) AND HER PARENTS COURTESY OF SARAH HALLER