Holiday Cookies Stamps Warm Up Minneapolis

by Todd Ronnei

Todd Ronnei and son Nathan show off a couple of Todd's first day covers at the Holiday Cookies first day ceremony in Minneapolis. Nathan's big brother Evan snapped the photo.
MINNEAPOLIS, OCT. 20: The United States Postal Service unveiled its 2005 holiday stamps in suburban Minneapolis this morning, at the world headquarters of General Mills, parent company of Pillsbury.

It was a crisp fall morning, and all festivities were held outdoors--quite nippy before the ceremony, but comfortable later when the sun warmed the air. One distinct disadvantage to being outdoors was the thick layer of dew on nearly every surface, which made protecting paper collectibles somewhat tricky.

I arrived with my sons Evan and Nathan at about 9:00 am, and promptly began servicing first day covers. I created six cachets for the event, all of which received numerous favorable comments from other attendees. I was surprised by the lack of other cachetmakers on hand; I saw only two others servicing their own cachets.

After servicing a number of covers, we moved across the lawn for the ceremony, which was held under a large open-air tent. Warming up the crowd before things got underway was the Metropolitan Boys Choir of Minneapolis, which performed a number of Christmas standards. The MC was Belinda Jensen of KARE-11 TV. Ms. Jensen, one of the station's meteorologists, took credit for the beautiful sunny day.

A heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem was delivered by Vonzell Solomon. Vonzell was an American Idol finalist this past May, and was formerly a carrier with the United States Postal Service.

inside post office
The stamps are unveiled. Left to right: MC Belinda Jensen, singer Vonzell Solomon, Pillsbury President Peter Robinson, USPS executive Anita Bizzotto, and the famous Pillsbury Doughboy.
Peter Robinson, President of Pillsbury USA, welcomed the overflow crowd to the home of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Mr. Robinson said how pleased Pillsbury was to be working with the USPS, and told us the 2005 Holiday Mailing Guide from the USPS would soon be delivered to every household in America. The Doughboy will be featured throughout the Guide. Mr. Robinson's comments were echoed by Anita Bizzotto, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of the Postal Service.

Other honored guests in attendance included Minneapolis Postmaster Anthony Williams, Becky Vermilyea (cookie designer), Emily Diffrient-Crumpton (cookie baker) and Sally Andersen-Bruce (cookie photographer). We learned that approximately 1,000 cookies were baked in the process of choosing the six that appear on the four stamps. The actual cookies that appear on the stamps, now four years old, were also on hand (but not on public display).

After the stamps were unveiled, Vonzell again took the microphone and gave a stunning performance of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You. Vonzell moved around the entire tent as she sang, getting up close and personal with folks throughout the crowd. She received enthusiastic cheering and applause at the end of her performance.

The ceremony completed, much of the crowd moved into the autograph line for the traditional signing of the ceremony programs. While waiting in line, I was approached by a television reporter who asked if she could interview me, and I agreed. With the camera rolling, I explained what a first day ceremony was all about, gave a quick tutorial on first day covers, and answered questions about other ceremonies I had attended in Minnesota.

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Vonzell Solomon belts out a Christmas song.

Autograph table

stuff for sale
USPS merchandise for sale

Nathan and friend