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Spicer woman finalist in NBC ‘Today Show’ party contest; show airs Tuesday

Kelly Anderson’s contest entry was of the “retro pool party” she did for her kids as a good-bye celebration in August of 2011 when she and her husband, Tony, and kids moved from Arizona and back home to Minnesota. (Submitted photo)

A Spicer woman, who has a passion for throwing whimsical parties for her three young children, will be competing next week in a contest for the best-themed party in the country.

Sponsored by NBC’s “Today Show,” Kelly Anderson will fly to New York on Monday for a quick rehearsal for her appearance Tuesday morning on the show.

She is one of three finalists chosen for the contest.

“I think it’s a fun and amazing opportunity to appear on nation television,” said Anderson. “It’s just a dream.”

To compete, contestants submitted photos and a short description of the parties they hosted.

For Anderson — a professional photographer who combines her love for throwing parties with her professional skills — entering the contest was simple.

“It took me about five minutes,” she said. “I thought, well, that was easy.”

She was surprised when she got a call from NBC directors a couple weeks ago seeking more information about her party. After conducting a telephone interview with them, Anderson was later informed she was one of the three finalists.

Anderson’s entry was of the “retro pool party” she did for her kids as a good-bye celebration in August of 2011 when she and her husband, Tony, and kids moved from Arizona and back home to Minnesota.

Hosted at a poolside resort with umbrellas and colorful buckets of water balloons, artfully decorated beverage containers and snack sacks, the party also featured a photo booth, vintage pastel swim caps and flip-flops, blue Jell-O with gummy-bear sharks, freeze pops, snow cones and cookies that looked like life-preservers were wrapped up with artful tags and signs.

The fine details of each component of the party could’ve been orchestrated by a professional party planner and the package captured in Anderson’s photos could’ve easily jumped off the pages of a glossy magazine.

Because of her photography business and because she likes to create frequent celebrations for her kids, Anderson said she had many of the props on hand, but also picked up accessories at stores and worked with a friend who printed the invitations and other paper decorations.

“I’m a collector,” she said. “It all came together pretty easily. It was really cute but it was easy.”

During the “Today Show” each participant will display the invitations, favors, decorations and games they incorporated into their parties.

Recreating that theme has been, perhaps, the most challenging part of the process.

Because her family is making a transition of moving from one home to another and because it’s a snowy March in Minnesota, all the summer pool party props are packed away.

“I have to find all these pieces again,” said Anderson. “It’s been a hunt.”

Her plan was to send some of the larger items ahead and she will carry on some of the accessories when she flies to New York.

During the show she’ll be asked to “talk about the details and my favorite parts of the retro party,” she said.

The winner receives a trophy and likely a lot of attention.

Anderson was advised by NBC to update her professional blog (, which includes photos of the retro pool party, as well as other parties for her children: Madelyn, 7, Julia, 4, and Tommy, 2.

When she started taking about some of the parties she’s created for her kids even Anderson admitted she’s put on quite a few.

For example, there was the “Sunshine and Lemonade” birthday party for Julia that allowed guests to play customer and clerk at a pint-sized lemonade stand. A Christmas baker’s party had guests going from station to station to make and decorate goodies. A recent “Pancakes & Pajamas” sleepover had little girls camped out in an airy fort made with vintage sheets decorated with homemade hearts hanging from the peak.

“It’s just fun to see it all come together. I love photography and I love being with my kids,” she said.

Anderson, who describes herself as a “life-style” family photographer where she takes clients on “an adventure” and they go home with photos of themselves, said being on the TV show may generate more business calls.

But at this time in her life she said she limits her clients and appointments so she can meet her top priority of spending time with her children and finding opportunities to create celebrations for them.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750