By Janis Fontaine
Calling all young ladies: It’s time to party, American Girl-style!
The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is holding its third annual American Girl Fashion Show April 18 at the Boca Raton Marriott Hotel.
Since 1986, American Girl dolls have been educating young women about what it was like to be a girl growing up in the past. They may be dolls, but don’t assume they don’t have depth.
Each BeForever doll has a personal story and these are not fairy tales. The dolls wear historically accurate clothing and their stories address tough topics including poverty, racism and child abuse.
But each doll also “illustrates lasting lessons of hope and determination, and the enduring power of being true to yourself,” the American Girl website says.
“Through the books girls discover how that girl would have lived, what clothes she would have worn, and what the world would have been like for her. There’s a great educational component,” said Kristin Calder, CEO of the Literacy Coalition.
That’s the main reason the coalition wanted to partner with the American Girl brand. The company provides a model for the fashion show and carefully chooses organizations to host shows. Then the host group takes over the planning and execution.
Chairwoman Maggie Dickenson has worked on the event for the last three years.
“She’s a great leader,” Calder said.
Co-chair Nancy Vera and about 40 other moms volunteer to do the heavy lifting required to put on this event. “It’s complicated,” Calder laughs. “From hats to shoes, there’s a lot involved.”
All the models come from schools in Palm Beach County, and for many it’s “an unforgettable experience,” Calder said. “Last year a girl told me it was her favorite day of her whole life.”
The event features a fashion show, classic tea party refreshments and a chance to see (and buy) the latest American Girl goodies. “It’s really a great bargain for a $40 ticket,” Calder said. “You also get a very nice party favor. Last year it was a little purse made out of heavy paper and it opened up to become a stage with paper dolls.”
Each show — there are three performances — is in two acts with a 20-minute tea party/intermission, where girls nibble on cupcakes, cookies, strawberries and tea sandwiches, while moms enjoy coffee or tea or something with more of a kick at the cash bar.
Because there is a lot of sitting and listening during the show, Calder says it’s best suited for ages 6-12. Girls are invited to bring their favorite doll to the show, and dressing up is encouraged. Be sure to arrive an hour before the show, Calder says, to check out the souvenir items exclusive to the American Girl Fashion Show, and to buy tickets to win American Girl merchandise.
The money raised supports the coalition’s local literacy programs for children, including providing reading strategies for those who need help, and getting books into the hands of children who don’t have any.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to get children interested in reading,” Calder said.
If You Go
The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County’s American Girl Fashion Show
When: Three shows: 10 am, 1 pm and 4 pm
Where: The Boca Raton Marriott, 5150 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton
Tickets: $40, or $60 VIP, which includes a special VIP goodie bag and seating in the first two rows. $18 of the ticket price is tax-deductible.
Parking: Self-parking is available. Valet parking is $7.
Info: 279-9103; literacypbc.org