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BOONE LIFE: Two parties in one

Couple turn their birthday celebrations into neighborhood get-together
Monday, July 9, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:07 p.m. CST, Monday, February 9, 2009
David Van Sickle, left, is king for the day at his party, held June 30. In fact, the birthday party was for David and his wife, Suzanne, right. The two were born 17 days apart. For the last three years, they have decided to celebrate their birthdays together with a neighborhood party.

It’s midnight on Saturday, June 30. The kids are still up, partying with their parents.

Underneath a white tent in the backyard, Phoebe Farres, 7, who earlier in the evening swam in an inflatable swimming pool in the pouring rain, sits on a chair, playing the drums to the beat of African music.

The Van Sickles’ birthday party is more than just a community social. It’s an opportunity for friends and neighbors to gather in an informal setting, celebrating to the talents of artists from around the state.

Those on the bill include Jill Hartleip of the West African Dance group BoCoMo Drumheads Medicine Show and Social Club; Kandi Grossman and her belly dance troupe DragonFlies; and Matthew Sharp from St. Louis, a sitar expert.

David Van Sickle wears a crown on his head as he dances to the music. He has just turned 35.

“I’m now old enough to run for president,” Van Sickle says with a big grin. “It’s kind of scary.”

His wife, Suzanne, who will turn 36 two weeks later, bursts his bubble, reminding him she doesn’t want to live in Washington, D.C.

Instead, the Van Sickles live in a two-story, light blue house in the North Central Village neighborhood, just north of downtown Columbia.

2007 marks the third year in a row that the Van Sickles have thrown a huge party to celebrate both of their birthdays.

Around the time of their first party, Todd Yatsook moved into their neighborhood. He now joins the Van Sickles in organizing the festivities and invites his friends to observe both the birthdays and the anniversary of his move.

“Originally, we invited our neighbors so they wouldn’t call the police on us for having live music in the backyard,” Suzanne says. “But we have such wonderful neighbors, now we want to invite them.”

David Van Sickle’s wardrobe for the evening included a crown, a sign to the guests that he was, indeed, the birthday boy.
Suzanne Van Sickle, left, dances with the DragonFlies belly dancing group, part of the eclectic lineup of entertainers performing that night.
Watch the scenes and sounds from David and Suzanne Van Sickles' neighborhood birthday party.
Suzanne Van Sickle, left, pauses during her rendition of “Waltz Across Texas.” Her husband, David, accompanies her on the guitar.

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