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Spicer, Minn., woman takes party-planning expertise to ‘Today’ show in New York City

Kelly Anderson of Spicer was one of three women who competed last week in a “best party theme” contest that aired on NBC’s “Today” show. Submitted photo courtesy of Kelly Anderson

SPICER — It’s not easy packing up a party, flying halfway across the country and putting props, food and games all on display for a national television audience.

“Chaos is a good word for it,” said Kelly Anderson, of Spicer, who was one of three women who competed last week in a “best party theme” contest that aired on NBC’s Today Show.

Despite the flurry of preparations, Anderson was thrilled to be part of the show.

“The whole experience was awesome,” she said. “I loved every minute of it”

Anderson, a professional photographer and mother of three young children, showcased the retro pool party she hosted for her kids as a going-away celebration when she, her husband and children moved from Arizona to Minnesota in 2011.

She brought buckets of water balloons, colorful decorations, party favors and activities to the New York studio for a live show that aired March 26.

This Friday afternoon, Anderson will appear on KSTP’s Twin Cities Live television program to talk about her penchant for parties that put children in the middle of good, wholesome fun with a big splash of style.

“It seems a bit strange to be appearing on two TV shows talking about party planning. I’m not a pro,” said Anderson. “I just like to put together fun memories for my kids whenever there happens to be time to do so.”

To prepare for the show in New York, Anderson mailed several boxes of props ahead to the hotel and brought the rest with her on the plane.

“It all came together pretty well,” said Anderson, even though there were a few details that missed the mark.

She had been told she would be limited to a 2-by-3-foot table and she brought enough props to fill that space. When she got to the studio the night before the show, she discovered the table was much larger and she was left wishing she had brought more things to fill it up. Anderson and the other two contestants were each assigned three staff people to help them, including caterers.

“They were fun, laid back people. I had a blast,” said Anderson.

The contestants set up their display tables the night before during a dress rehearsal and arrived at the set at 7 a.m. the next day f hair and makeup were done by professionals. Celebrities walked by, including country music star Blake Shelton and Carson Daly, who sat and chatted with Anderson while she was getting her hair done.

Later that morning, Daly saw Anderson’s sizable camera on the set and snapped a few pictures of Anderson by her table as she waited for the show to get under way.

“All of the anchors were so nice,” she said. “They made us feel like we were such a big deal.”

The party segment of the show lasted about 5 or 6 minutes.

“It all went by in such a flash,” said Anderson. “It didn’t feel like national television. It felt like a normal conversation.”

Anderson said getting a peek at the behind-the-scenes activity of how a national television show operates held a few surprises, including the small size of the studio.

“The people who are part of that crew, behind the scene, are like magicians,” she said. “It’s amazing what they pull off in such a little space.”

Anderson was not named the winner of the contest, but she said it was a “once in a lifetime experience” that she would gladly do over again.

She said the experience helped her realize why she likes to put on parties for her children and what she does best.

“I like to keep things so that they’re simple and somewhat ordinary but add just enough to make it special and out of the ordinary,” she said. “Nothing over-the-top, but always a few special details to make it memorable.”

During the Twin Cities television show on Friday Anderson will showcase three party themes, with tips on how to make events for children simple, accessible, approachable and affordable.

Her daughter, Madelyn, and friend Ava Hanson — who are both students at New London-Spicer’s Prairie Woods Elementary School — will also be on the show with Anderson to demonstrate the party props and activities.

Carolyn Lange

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

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