MILLCREEK — A birthday is a time to feel like royalty. Arda Jean Christensen had no idea what sort of surprise her family would come up with after she made a special request.
“My father’s been deceased for a few years,” said Rachel Clark, Arda Jean’s daughter. “He always made a big deal out of my mom’s birthday.”
“Years ago, my husband made a surprise birthday party for me,” Arda Jean said. “He felt like it was such a grand success that we’ve had a surprise every year since then.”
Her family has done it all for her birthday — everything from bringing in bounce houses, to renting out the entire “Heber Creeper” train. Now Arda Jean’s turning 91, and for the past couple of years, her husband’s throne has sat empty.
“She misses him terribly,” Clark said.
Majestic surprises were his specialty, and the family has fought to keep them alive.
“That’s why we asked her what she wanted, and that’s when she said she wanted, ‘Whatever the Queen did.’ We did a little research, and we found out that the Queen always has a parade, and so this is our spin on a parade,'” said Clark.
Obviously, the family couldn’t create the same spectacle the Queen of England witnesses, but they did come up with one grand idea: a parade of Corgis.
Queen Elizabeth II is known around the world for her love of the short-legged herding dogs — she’s owned over 30 throughout her life.
“The Queen actually raises Corgis,” Clark said. “That’s her favorite dog, and we just went in that direction.”
A regal procession was in order, so the family sent forth a herald to make a public decree.
“My daughter put it on Reddit and Facebook,” Clark said. “Apparently there’s a ‘Corgi Friends’ page.”
And so, Arda Jean leaned back in an easy chair set up at a park to witness a cavalcade of corgis, assembled to pay homage to her highness.
The lords and ladies of the valley answered the castle’s call, bringing in their companions to waddle in numbers beyond the noblest of dreams.
“I didn’t know there were this many of this kind of dogs in the city,” Arda Jean said.
Clark said the family considered how many Corgis they’d need to convene in order to mobilize a parade worthy of a monarch. They decided if they had at least five, they could consider the event a success.
A planned surprise for Arda Jean became a surprise for all of them, as around 50 Corgis lined up to pay their respects.
“The Queen herself couldn’t get a better birthday than I get,” Arda Jean said with a laugh. “Those dogs are amazing. I could not imagine, first of all, that anybody would come with their dogs. And how many? So many dogs, I couldn’t believe it. What a lovely idea.”
The celebration turned out to be anything but common — and while the King may be gone, his subjects have made sure his legacy lives on.
“He always thought it was important to celebrate her birthday, and so by us doing that, it brings him close to us all,” Clark said. “Especially her.”