NUTLEY, NJ - Grace Episcopal Church on Highfield Lane in Nutley held their annual Blessing of Dolls and Tea Party Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12. The slushy icy weather did not stop about 10 children and their parents to partake in this annual event.

According to the Rev. Audrey Hasselbrook the Blessing of the Dolls and Tea Party has been a going on for about six years now. “The weather had a lot to do with it, usually there are about 20 or more kids,” she told TAPinto Nutley.

The annual event began with a small service geared towards the children in the church.  The Rev. Pamela Bakal welcomed all; both girls and boys were present. “Why are we here today,” she asked.

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“Blessing the dolls and stuffed animals,” responded Isabella Antonicello of Nutley. “Because we love them,” added Kaitlyn Gibney, 9, of Nutley.

Bakal then asked them what you do when you love something. You don’t want to let it go she explained to them. “The dolls help you to learn to love outside your family, your love can span all over the world,” she said.

Hasselbrook delivered the opening prayer. It described the bonding of children and their dolls and how playing teaches to love and care for one another. Nutley children Lincoln Boyes, 8, and Samantha Aversa, 6, read two verses from the bible, respectively.

Bakal requested four of the girls, three of which were from the church Youth Group, Isabella Antonicello, Amanda Gibney and her sisters Sarah and Kaitlyn, all of Nutley, to come up to the front to read the prayers of the people. The children were asked to hold their dolls up in the air as Bakal gave a group blessing. They were then able to have their dolls blessed individually by either Bakal or Hasselbrook.

The blessing was not limited to dolls the children also brought stuffed animals and a cell phone. One girl Nova Boyes, 3, had a doll with her name on it. “It was a gift from her grandparents, and her brother, Lincoln, brought a book with him; he loves to read,” said Jenny Boyes.

After the blessing the children and parents moved into the parish hall to enjoy a high tea party together.  The tables were all set with a ceramic tea pot at each table and English style tea cups and saucers. The children sat together with their dolls as the parents supervised.

Each table had a platter of finger sandwiches consisting of peanut butter and jelly, egg salad and tuna salad.  Parishioner Mon Himman made homemade orange coconut, cherry pecan and buttermilk scones as well as clotted cream and Susan Gibney made brownies for all.

Lincoln Boyes went around to each table offering an assortment of tea for all to drink. Children also had the option to have cocoa and mini marshmallows as well. At the end of the event all the children helped clean up the hall.

The donations collected at the tea party went to the outreach program.

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