Tea time for youth

Dressed in a white blouse and a purple sweater, a 7-year-old blond-haired girl shares “tea time” with her American Girl Doll, which has blond hair and blue eyes resembling her own.

Ava Gibson spent time Saturday morning drinking fruit punch, eating chocolate-covered strawberries and other small treats during an early afternoon tea with her American Girl Doll named Emma. She had already designed a charm for Charm It! bracelets and had her photograph taken before sitting down for refreshments and snacks at Casa Chic in downtown Wapakoneta.

“I came today because it was a big surprise, my dad surprised me,” Ava said, of her father, Scott, bringing her to the West Auglaize Street store. “I really liked the tea because I got to spend time with my doll. They are really special dolls and they are just for you.”

Casa Chic’s Luann Everett, who handles the American Girl Doll line at the antique and gift store, said the 18-inch tall dolls debuted in 1986 with 10 9-year-old fictional heroines living during important times in America’s past. She explained the My American Girl product line lets every girl create a special doll that’s just for her.

“These dolls are popular because they are good quality dolls and the historical dolls teach girls history lessons because the dolls come from a specific year or during a specific period of historical significance from 1774 to 1812, from the Civil War period to 1880s,” Everett said. “They are not like Barbie dolls, the dolls are just young girls and they look like young girls themselves.”

She remarked special accessories include pajamas, athletic outfits and musical instruments.

Seven-year-old Hannah Stemen, of Delphos, brought her doll, Julie, who is her first American Girl Doll.

“I like this because I got to spend lots of time with her,” Hannah said, holding Julie on her lap while sipping fruit punch sitting on a white cast-iron outdoor furniture set. “I play house with her all the time, and I change her hairstyles and her clothes all the time. At night, I put pajamas on her and I put dresses on her during the day.”

She was joined by 9-year-old Emma Goudy and her 11-year-old sister, Sarah Goudy.

Seven-year-old Shelby Oakes, of Botkins, said she really likes visiting Casa Chic because her grandmother works there.

“My mother got my grandpa to get my doll,” Shelby said. “I really like going to tea parties with her.”

Shelby is the daughter of Debra and Jeff Oakes.

Saturday’s event came about from the work of Landa Tomlinson, Laura Clementz and Everett at Casa Chic and Pam Lange, of Charm-it.

By noon, Tomlinson said the event was “going very well and we had a great response from the public,” and the telephone was ringing when they opened and they “were still receiving calls for reservations in the morning.”

“We would love to make it an annual event,” Tomlinson said.

The four women had been working separately on a mid-winter event, but they decided to work together because they thought their individual expertise lent itself to being attractive for young girls.

“We were doing an ad for a keepsake edition in the Wapakoneta Daily News and I told Landa that Charm It! had just called and asked me to do a national contest with them so I said why don’t we do something together with American Girl Doll and we came up with this,” Lange said. “The response has been terrific, it is more than I expected.

“We are really pleased and the little girls think this is really special,” she said. “Today, coming to the store and spending time with their parents and their dolls, it is all about them — they are the center of attention.”