Somehow, ten years ago when my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage, I was too consumed with new house, two small kids, and life in general to arrange a party. And so, for the past ten years, I purposed in my heart that I would have a celebration to honor them on their 60th anniversary!
When Randy joined our family, camping out in the woods this summer, I mentioned the idea to him and he thought it sounded good. And so my mind began making all sorts of mental notes from a guest list to what type of party we should have!
Shortly after the conception of the party idea, Randy mentioned that Mom and Dad would probably love to have their favorite music group, The Mountain Railroad, present to play music. This idea was the icing on the cake!
The Mountain Railroad is a group of musicians that rival any big name professional group. The leader, a man named Maurice Brown, (everyone calls him “Morris”) used to own a huge barn-like structure that he built on his property. Every Sunday, Maurice and the band would perform for several hours, and attendees could purchase a meal while listening. When Maurice’s wife’s health began to fail, he sold the building and began taking jobs around the area.
We came up with the date of October 5 for the party. Mark called Maurice, and he told us that although he generally doesn’t do a great deal of traveling, the group was going to be out of the area on that particular weekend. We were so determined to have the band that we asked if they could attend the following Sunday. When Maurice said yes, that set the date and we were on a roll!
We now had entertainment, but where were we going to hold the party?
I told Mark I could handle doing the food, as I had catered Carly and Jeff’s wedding several years ago. We began looking for a party house where there was a kitchen to work in. We spent a few days exploring the internet for places that would fill the bill. After several calls, we found there were no parks with pavilions and cooking facilities, no party houses, and just nothing that would work. Back to square one.
Mark saw me stressing out and decided that it might lighten the load if we could find a restaurant that would be suitable. My parents belong to a fabulous rod and gun club, but when we called them, we were told their party room was quite small and the cook was unsure about availability. The club had quit doing small parties, but were going to recommence them. The cook was unsure as to whether this would happen before the new year. The rod and gun club was out.
We called some restaurants in the area, but found they weren’t what we hoped for. I was beginning to wonder if this was even going to work. Then, one morning when I woke up, I thought about a golf course I had driven past years and years ago. It was in “the boonies” and was just the most incredible place I had ever seen. (I was born in Pennsylvania and resided there the first three months of my life. Somehow, my heart has remained deep in the hills of Pennsylvania.) I remembered asking my father about it a couple of years ago, and he said he knew the general area and agreed it was beautiful!
After looking on the internet, we discovered that the golf club did indeed cater parties! When we asked about pricing, we were totally impressed and Mark decided we should take a drive there to check it out.
Summer came. Summer went. We never made the trip to the golf course to check out the place, but somehow, I felt a great deal of confidence and told Mark it would work out, one way or another….
As the time grew nearer and nearer, I began thinking of all the little details. I wanted some type of centerpieces on the tables, but as I looked for ideas, I just grew more and more frustrated! As I was driving the kids in Canandaigua one day, I saw the most beautiful Mums in front of Lowe’s Home Center. The lightbulb went off! I ran inside the store and found nine yellow/orange mum plants that would be pretty sitting on the tables, falling in line with the autumn theme that seemed to be taking shape all on its own! And, as a matter of fact, Mom’s adores autumn colors, so this was just fantastic! AND, my father could plant the potted mums around their yard, reminding them of the party!
After Lowe’s, I drove over to Michael’s Crafts and found gold florist paper to wrap around the ugly plastic pots they were in. I found some ribbon that would look pretty, too! I kept reminding myself to just “keep everything simple” so as not to stress!
Everything was falling into place perfectly! (Oh, the mums were featured on my blog under the “Ho Hum, Another Gorgeous Day“; they happened to be the first photo!) On Friday, we ordered a cake from a nearby grocery store that Carly and her family were going to pick up for us. The main centerpiece for the cake table would be arranged by Michelle and me and we would pick up flowers on Saturday.
The guest list was narrowed down to relatives who lived not-too-far away. Knowing my parents as I do, I told everyone that gifts were gratefully declined.
When Saturday arrived, I spent three hours shopping and buying all the finishing touches. Everything seemed too easy, but I kept reminding myself of the simple approach!
On Sunday, I awakened at 4am. I was not sweaty, but I felt like I was on fire,nervous that my parents would call and say they couldn’t make it, or that they might get upset with me! Now, when I get nervous, I begin to move around! I ran downstairs, getting this idea to bake some cookies in the event that people might not like cake. So, I baked about 10 dozen cookies.
Shortly after 10 am, we were on the road.
The blazing autumnal colors were relaxing and comforting as we edged our way over our 150 mile journey.
Fears would rise up from time to time. What if the place was a dump? What if the food was horrible? We had never been to this place and my only memory of it was ancient! What had we gotten ourselves into?
We passed the Onoville Marina where Randy, the kids, and I had paddled our kayaks this summer. It was so beautiful, but the water level on the river was down a great deal as witnessed in the photo below….
From the marina to our destination was only a few miles. As we drove down the narrow country road, Mark began to wonder! It looked as though we were entering the “boonies” very rapidly!
We pulled into the golf club shortly after one. Carly and her family arrived right after us and one of the musicians showed up a little later.
Carly, Jeff, and the kids began decorating, along with Michelle and Ben. Everything was going along so smoothly!
Randy had talked to us the day before, suggesting that we tell Mom and Dad to wait for us to call them when we were getting close to the location. We would find it, then have them follow us in our truck. They were agreeable, so at about 2:50, I called my parents and told them we found the place. Wethen drove to a main road, and awaited their arrival. They came and while I would have normally gotten out to talk to them, we just drove off with them in tow!
We arrived at the club at about 3:20. Ben and Mark hurried in ahead, and Michelle and I walked in with Mom, Dad, and Randy. I opened a door to the room our family was gathered in, and everyone shouted out, “Happy Anniversary!”
Unfortunately, I did not poise my camera to catch the look on their faces. However, Mom and Dad both looked like a deer caught in headlights. They looked perplexed, then suddenly realized what was going on…smiles appeared on their faces as they saw the familiar faces surrounding them!
Mark had warned that I should be prepared to keep the “ball rolling, but Maurice got the band started and they played for over an hour! When the employees brought out the buffet to the table, the band took a break and everyone lined up. The food….it was UNbelievable!
As the band had been playing, the distinct scent of grilling steak filled the air, making my stomach cry out! I thought it was for the restaurant, but we found out that the Tips and Noodles served to us included delicious steak on top of noodles and gravy! There was also turkey breast, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, a relish tray, a fantastic pasta salad made with bow tie shaped pasta, along with bread and rolls. Coffee was also provided, and they allowed us to bring in sodas and gave us coolers and ice to keep them chilled! (I am wondering WHY I didn’t take a photo of the food!)
The Mountain Railroad…
When I asked my dad if he likes surprises, he told me “Yes, when it is one like this! This is a dream come true!”
Dad didn’t need to say another word! As he kept hugging me and asking me HOW I pulled this off, I was totally happy!
The guests of honor!
After our deliciously satisfying dinner, the band played on once again! We had scheduled the party from 3-7 pm, and when everyone was gone, I looked up.
It seemed that even the moon was smiling down upon us! What an amazing day! Golden sunshine had filled the day and now, the large bright globe above us lit our way as we traveled the 150 miles back home!