Sara Swanson

Annabelle throwing Valentine party for all of Manchester!

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Annabelle Valentine 2012 with her Grandmother “GaGa” and her rusty old wagon.

Many Manchester residents are familiar with Annabelle Valentine! From a young age Annabelle Celkis fashioned herself as Valentines Day personified based on storybook character Ruby Valentine created by Laurie B. Friedman. Every February 14th she could be found pulling her red wagon through the village handing out valentines, and homemade treats. This year Annabelle is trying something different and throwing a Valentine party for all of Manchester!

The party will be held on Wednesday February 14th from 5:30 to 8 pm. Exhale Yoga, located at 118 East Main Street, has offered their space for the party. There will be music, homemade cookies, Kool-Aid, popcorn, a small area for people who wish to dance, a couple of games with prizes, and tables set up with supplies for anyone to make Valentine cards for veterans. There will be a story time at 6 pm featuring the book that inspired Annabelle in the first place. Although the prizes will be geared more towards little kids, everyone is invited to attend and this is a party for all ages. The party will be from 5:30 to 8:30. Come help spread the love!

After six years of her her Valentine mission, Annabelle, who is now ten years old almost didn’t do it this year because she felt too old. Her mother, Stephanie Celkis, reports that upon the reaction of others to the news that she wasn’t going to continue the Annabelle Valentines tradition this year, “her eyes welled up and she realized the impact that she has made and it energized her to want to come up and do something.” When Annabelle decided to throw a Valentines Party this year, her mother was touched by the response she received from an initial Facebook post. “Then you have Anna and Exhale Yoga,” she stated, “Yesterday the first thing that popped up on [Anna’s] Facebook feed when she opened it was my note asking for help for a space. She said she hasn’t lived here long–only three years–but she remembers last year, Annabelle had walked up to her and gave her a Valentine. She was so touched.” So when that popped up she described it as feeling like it was destiny to help Annabelle out. Her mother stated, “This year the village gave her Valentine battery power. It’s pretty cool.”

Annabelle and her brother Paul delivering bottled water collected from Manchester residents to Flint residents for Valentines 2016. Commissioner Bryant packed up the trunks of cars with water while Annabelle and her brother gave people a card and cookies. Annabelle’s mother remarked how quickly what seemed like a huge amount of water was handed out and gone and how incomprehensibly massive the need for safe water was (and still is). Photo courtesy of the Celkis family.

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