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Family parties go from Christmas to a backyard castle

July 6, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

You just never know what makes some people tick.

Not many people would have thought to use a Christmas theme for a summer family reunion, let alone actually do it, but that's what the Hedeen family did on June 28 at Snell-Crawford Park.

"We attracted a lot of attention," admitted Sandi Hedeen, who works downstairs in the business office of The Messenger. "It's been 54 years since we all had a Christmas together. It's something we should have done a few years ago when everybody was still here."

That, unfortunately, means her parents, James, a captain on the police force for 25 years, and Helen, are both gone, as are her brother, Steve, and sister, Wanda. Some uncles, too. It's just a sad fact that as people age, some of them die.

This family reunion brought together about 55 family members, even Sandi's brother Al and his wife, Shirley, from Raleigh, N.C. They've already taken off for a meandering trip around the United States before heading home.

The family, by the way, are descendants of Lars Albert Hedeen and his wife, Rosetta.

There were Christmas decorations, trees lighted and with ornaments included. Blow-up figures of Santa and a snowman were put out on the lawn, plus a penguin that popped up and down in a chimney and another Santa that also popped up and down.

"We played games, went on a trail work and we took the kids down so they could splash in the water where it comes over the road," Sandi said. "We set up a memorial table for all our family who couldn't be there with a memorial candle and guardian angel and pictures."

The next day in another part of town, Rick and Laurie Wagner held a first-birthday party for their toddler, Olivia, turning the yard into a castle fit for a princess.

"Her invitations were an invitation to a royal celebration printed on vellum overlaying pink cardstock," Laurie said. "I tied them with pink princess ribbon and attached crown shaped brads to hold the pieces together."

And that was just for the invitation.

Laurie, you see, loves parties. She loves to plan them, loves to make them work and loves the actual party. The jury is still out on the degree of her insanity.

"Everything was done in pink," Laurie said. We had programs when the guests entered, and Jake (Olivia's 5-year-old brother) was dressed up as a knight and had to pass the programs out and little crowns and wands to the women when they arrived. We crowned Olivia as princess and then we ate chicken wings like they have turkey legs at the royal parties."

It might be an understatement when she adds, "everyone thinks I'm crazy for going to all the work."

Oh, I haven't told you, "all that work" includes creating a cardboard castle as a fitting backdrop for the princess of the party.

Jake's parties started with Clifford and a doghouse to play in when he was 1, followed by a Jo-Jo circus party at 2, a Bob the Builder party at 3, a pirate party at 4 where kids had to walk the plank to get in and a Batman party when he was 5 with the front of the garage the city skyline of Gotham City.

"No birthday party can ever be plain for me," Laurie said.

Where was she, I wonder, when my kid was growing up. Heck to that, where was she when I changed the numbers on my birthday file? That's coming around again in another six months.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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