Utahns find special meaning in 11-11-11

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — For the first decade of her life while growing up in Kansas, Loretta Eisiminger got a parade for her birthday — at least she thought she did.

"They used to have a Veterans Day parade when I was growing up," she said, laughing. "I thought it was just mine."

Forty years later, on Loretta's 50th birthday, Nov. 11 gave her something else — a granddaughter, Erica Presnell, who was born around 5:30 in the morning.

"I was thrilled," Eisiminger said.

Presnell said she has spent every birthday since with her grandmother, many of them at Carl's Café in Cottonwood Heights, which is owned by Presnell's aunt, Eisiminger's daughter, Lisa Wallace.

"It's so fun," Presnell said. "It means the whole family is always there. If you forget Grandma's birthday, you're in big trouble."

But Nov. 11, 2010, brought something unexpected for the both of them. Presnell's sister, Laura Dimmitt, was scheduled for a Cesarean section on Nov. 18. But she started feeling sick on Nov. 10. She went to the doctor and was told to rest up, the baby was coming in the morning.

Eisiminger and Presnell were both at St. Mark's Hospital when Brynn Dimmitt was born on their collective birthday — 11-11.

"It was the best birthday present," Presnell said of her niece's birth. "I call her 'B,' because she's my birthday baby, Brynn, she's my little 'B.'"

Now on 11-11-11, they are 101 years old between the three of them.

Eisiminger marks 75 years. Presnell is 25 years old. Brynn is marking her first birthday.

"I think it's more special because I'm a quarter of a century on 11-11-11," Presnell said.

Eisiminger said she is grateful to be alive, to have an opportunity to celebrate with some of her five children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. "It's just wonderful to be able to say you're 75 years old, in good health and everything's fine," she said.

This year she marked her birthday like years before, sharing grilled cheese sandwiches with Presnell. "At 11:11 in the morning, just to get the party started,"Presnell said.

The first 12 years of the new century have led to the first time three consecutive numbers can be seen in one month in 100 years. Time Magazine conjectured that 7-7-7 was "the most popular wedding day ever." In Las Vegas, Clark County Clerk Diana Alba called the triple sevens "the granddaddy of all dates," but said that there were already 3,200 applications filled out for 11-11-11 — more than three times the normal number.

While some use the dates to mark milestones, others take the opportunity to turn it into an adventure.

Ken Hansen and his wife, Susan, of Murray decided months ago to celebrate the day in a big way, by flying to the United States' 11th state — New York.

"This is the first time I've been here for everything," he said Thursday from Time's Square. "We're going to see a Broadway show, the typical tourist stuff."

Hansen said the couple had tickets to see the breakout show "War Horse," planned to visit the Statue of Liberty and attend a Sept. 11 memorial — plenty of nods to the national holiday, Veterans Day, which grew out of the World War I armistice that took effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

Hansen said he believed the trip would be one to remember and, in the meantime, he and his wife already have their eye on next year.

"We're trying to find another thing to mix in with 12-12-12," he said. "I'm sure we'll find something."

Contributing: Associated Press


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