I always wondered what it would be like to be the recipient of a surprise party. I’ve been to several surprise parties and it’s always fun. First you receive the invite and the instructions-what time to be there, where you are going to hide and what to do when the guest of honor arrives. It is always a fun time especially when the person is genuinely surprised.


On April 28 I went to cover (write a story and take pictures) the tenth Annual Tea given by the Homewood AMEZ Church. I was asked to be a tea pourer for this event. When I arrived I was instructed to sit in the designated chair for the tea pourer. I took some random photos and waited for the program to begin.

Typically, the Homewood AMEZ missionary honors someone on this day and I was waiting for them to announce who it was going to be. Toni Phinisee began to introduce the honoree by saying she is a woman who wears many hats. I thought to myself that sounds familiar that sounds like my bio. A beautiful dancer came on the stage and began dancing to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. She danced for a moment and then reached back stage for a hat box. She danced with the box and then handed it to me. I was shocked. She continued dancing and went for a second box and handed me that as well. I must be dreaming, I thought. She then gave me a third box. The hat boxes were beautiful. I could tell this definitely was organized by someone who knows me very well. The color scheme of the boxes were black, white with a touch of pink. They will fit so well into the décor of my guest room.

The boxes were designed to fit into each other. But as I received each box I could tell that they were not empty. I opened the smallest one first and found a snappy straw visor. The visor was very neutral and perfect for sunny days to protect me from dangerous rays of the sun. Inside of box number two was a fabulous fascinator I would call the color French vanilla.

It is organza and adored with feathers. This is definitely a special occasion piece and I know that it was hard for Tony to part with. Inside of box number three was a great straw hat with a leopard print scarf tied around it. I was blown away. Even if the boxes were empty this would have been a great surprise, but to have something in each one was amazing.

I want to publicly thank the ladies missionary at Homewood AMEZ Church for their generosity and thoughtfulness, especially their president Phinisee and Reverend Dennis. They made me feel so special, I couldn’t stop crying. I have tried the hats on numerous times and plan to do a photo shoot with them.

Some people don’t like surprises. I’ve always been on the fence, mainly because I thought no one could pull it off, but Homewood AMEZ pulled it off in great fashion. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

(Email the columnist at deb­bie­norrell@aol.com)

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