Jan 21, 2014

First Princess Tea Party at St. Patrick Parish is a ‘storybook’ success



Story and photos by Julie Beaulieu

SOUTH HADLEY – Dreams came true on Saturday, Jan. 18 for many young ladies at the Princess Tea Party in South Hadley.

Girls, and even boys, ages 1-10, anxiously waited in a line that went down the street to enter the sold-out party. The event, held at the St. Patrick Church Social Center, will benefit the church’s Toddler Playgroup. Kris Gagne is the director of the playgroup.

“This is our first tea party,” she told iobserve. “We really didn’t know what to expect, but we are already getting asked if it’s going to be an annual thing.”

“We have Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel making special guest appearances, hanging around with the crowd and posing for pictures,” she continued. “We have a bounce house. We have plenty of refreshments out. Simplicity Salon of Holyoke is here. They are doing hair glitter, bows and braids, nail decals, temporary tattoos, some face painting and basic make-up. So, they are basically making all of our princesses sparkle while they are here.

“We have some games and activities planned. We have lots of raffles going on as well, with princess items (as prizes). There’s a lot going on,” said Gagne.

All three of Reem LeDuc’s children have attended the playgroup. “I’m pretty good friends with Krissy, who runs the playgroup, and she always does an amazing job, so we just keep coming back,” said LeDuc. “I have three kids now and I brought each one before pre-school started. She keeps the kids involved, which is really nice because before pre-school, there’s not a lot to do with little kids. Having them so involved is great and they get to know their peers, other kids their age.”

Her 3-year-old daughter, Lanna, who is currently a member of the playgroup, was very excited about the tea party. “She kept asking me all week, ‘Is it Saturday yet? Is it Saturday yet?’” said LeDuc.

“I found some candy,” Lanna told the iobserve reporter. “I’m so excited at the tea party,” she added. When asked who her favorite princess was, Lanna replied, “Rapunzel,” as she showed off her Princess Rapunzel costume.

The playgroup started three years ago, said Gagne. “Our playgroup meets every Thursday, year-round, from 9:30-11:30 am. It’s open to everyone. Everyone is welcome. Ages 0 to 5 is recommended. We completely just run on donations.

“We provide snacks. We have various things and activities throughout the year,” Gagne said. “We’ve had the police department bring cop cars here for the kids to play in. The fire truck has been here. We’ve had a dump truck from the D P W (Department of Public Works). We’ve had lots of fun activities,” she said.

“The money will go to, just basically, keeping the playgroup going, rather than to charge everybody that comes in,” added Gagne.

About $1,000.00 was raised at last Saturday’s event. For more information, call 413-532-2850 or go to www.stpatricksh.org.

Watch for a video version of this story on an upcoming edition of the Springfield Diocese's weekly newmagazine, "Real to Reel," which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.