The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 5, 2012

Hallmark ornament-signing event attracts hundreds to Joplin store

JOPLIN, Mo. — Helen Edlin, of Dickson, Tenn., remembers how she fell in love with Hallmark ornaments.

“I’ve been collecting since 1978, when my small town in Tennessee got a Hallmark store,” she said. “They (the ornaments) are so detailed and so personal.”

Edlin was one of several hundred people, many from outside Southwest Missouri, who were at Amanda’s Hallmark Shop, 1651 W. Seventh St., on Saturday for the chance to buy exclusive Christmas ornaments and have them signed by a few of the artists who helped design them.

The store was selling two ornaments exclusive to Saturday’s event — a Christmas-themed table and a stove — and was expected to sell out of all 324 of them by the end of the day, said store manager Donna Garrigan. She said she expected about 500 people to have passed through the store by the end of Saturday.

“We knew we’d have a huge crowd,” she said.

Hallmark’s Linda Sickman, a retired artist, and Kristina Gaughran and Ruth Donikowski, senior sculptors, signed ornaments for visitors. Appointment times for the signings, as well as tickets to buy the exclusive ornaments, were distributed before the event to those waiting in line outside the store.

Because a limited number of people were allowed inside the store to prevent overcrowding, the line snaked along the sidewalk outside all morning, even as the temperature inched toward 100 degrees. Staff members handed out bottles of water.

Edlin joined the line at about 4:45 a.m. It was worth it, she said, because not only did she get the exclusive ornaments, but she also got a few other pieces signed by the artists. Come Christmastime, the ornaments will join about 3,000 others that she has on display across 45 trees in her house, she said.

Randi Collins, of Tulsa, Okla., had stood in line since just after 5 a.m. By 10 a.m., she was standing in the checkout line to buy a Hallmark Keepsake ornament that was missing from her collection — a green mug with a marshmallow snowman sitting inside.

Collins said she has between 400 and 500 ornaments, having started her collection at age 11 with an ornament from her mother, who was also at Saturday’s event.

“It’s kind of gone from her to me to my daughter, and now I have a grandson, so it’s four generations,” she said.

Janet Brown and her daughter, Kayla, drove for six hours from Des Moines, Iowa, specifically for Sickman, who they said was one of their favorite Hallmark artists.

“Where she goes, we follow,” Kayla Brown said.

The two brought nearly 100 ornaments from their 5,000-piece collection with them, carefully packaged in small plastic cases, to get some of them signed. They said they had been in line since 6 a.m.

Hosting rights

The Bright Christmas Dreamers, a local club for people who collect Hallmark Christmas ornaments, won the right to be the hosts for Saturday’s event in a contest by creating a video chronicle of the year 2011 in Joplin. Hallmark puts on several such signing events each year in different cities.

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