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American Girl doll, Caroline, celebrated in Sackets Harbor

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SACKETS HARBOR — Caroline Abbott isn’t just a fictional character in the American Girl book and doll series; she has put this village on the map.

Young girls in fancy dresses and hats with accompanying Caroline or other American Girl dolls attended receptions over the weekend at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site to celebrate the character. While some of the 120 guests Sunday were locals, most were from outside the state, even as far away as Kansas, Iowa and Tennessee.

Caroline Flynn, 10, and her mother, Kristen, traveled from Boston specifically for the event. Neither had been to the village before. Caroline said the Caroline character was her favorite American Girl “because of her name, and I like her time period.”

Kathleen Ernst, author of the American Girl Caroline series, said Caroline lived during the War of 1812 in Sackets Harbor.

“I think the War of 1812 allowed her to have a lot of adventures,” Ms. Ernst said. “The real-life history gave us a lot to work with. I think one of the real joys of Caroline stories is it’s a balance of history and fiction.”

Hailing from Baltimore, Ms. Ernst considered basing the Caroline series in her home state, but felt “what happened here in the Great Lakes wasn’t as well known.”

Now, young girls are excited to travel to the village, learn about the war and experience the character’s life. Those who attended the receptions received American Girl bookmarks, autographs from Ms. Ernst and village maps to explore places Caroline might have gone.

Makayla Witt, 10, said she was excited to meet Ms. Ernst because “it’s really cool; you don’t get to see an author every day.” Her mother, Mary, said they came from Alexandria Bay to Sunday’s event because Makayla has read all seven books in the Caroline series.

Andrea C. Pedrick, Dexter, attended Sunday’s reception with her 10-year-old daughter, Rachel S. It was Mrs. Pedrick who was the original American Girl fan. When her daughter was born she started getting into the series, but now Rachel is also a big fan. Her favorite American Girl doll is Lanie, while Mrs. Pedrick’s favorite is Kit.

Constance B. Barone, manager of the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, said three receptions with seatings for 120 people all were sold out. The event was so popular, she said, that she had to turn away an additional 40 people.

Many children were engaged during a question-and-answer portion of Sunday’s reception with Ms. Ernst and asked questions about character details, writing careers and travel.

“I feel as if the whole village here has been celebrating Caroline,” Ms. Ernst said.

To see a video of the event, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-l3L96QMvU

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