Carla Offenburger will speak on March 9 at the Greene County Historical Museum about the popularity of the Barbie doll. In 2014 the doll will celebrate its 55th birthday.
Carla Offenburger will speak on March 9 at the Greene County Historical Museum about the popularity of the Barbie doll. In 2014 the doll will celebrate its 55th birthday.
Jefferson

Jefferson and Greene County are joining in on what likely will be an international "happening" in coming days - commemoration or celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Barbie doll being introduced on March 9, 1959.

On Thursday, March 6, the Jefferson Public Library will present a free "Barbie Fashion Runway Party" for kids from kindergarten through second grade, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 307 S. Wilson St. It's being promoted as coming "complete with beauty stations, fashion accessories and more," and the youngsters are invited to "make a fashion statement in jeans or fancy party dress" for photos on the "runway." They promise "a special guest appearance by Barbie."

On Sunday, March 9, the Greene County Historical Society will host two free events at the museum at 219 E. Lincoln Way. And all day, there will be a special display of a 300-doll Barbie collection that was donated to the museum in 2003 by Jefferson native Arlene Klatt.

From 1 to 2 p.m., there will be a "Barbie Birthday Party Bash" for ages 5 and up. Children are encouraged to bring their own Barbie, Ken and other dolls in their own collections, and to come dressed as Barbie if they want. There'll be "Barbie doll scavenger hunt" throughout the museum. There will be free treats.

At 3 p.m., Carla Offenburger, who a decade ago taught a class at Buena Vista University on the global phenomenon of Barbie, will speak for an audience of older students and adults on "Barbie - A Timeless Treasure."

Offenburger, who lives outside Cooper and is community-relations director at Greene County Medical Center, said that the enduring popularity of the Barbie doll gives it historical relevance. Adding to her own interest is that she is the same age as Barbie, and her own views about the doll have changed over the years.

"It is obvious that as she turns 55, Barbie has survived generations as a young girl's toy," Offenburger said. "But she's also matured into a multi-generational icon. And that's about a lot more than being a toy."

Ces Brunow, president of the historical society, said, "The museum's extensive Barbie doll collection is really something to see. And we think having two events on one day, a Barbie-themed birthday party for young girls, as well as a thoughtful presentation on Barbie's impact on pop culture, will bring in even more people to discover what our museum offers."

She noted that Klatt, who donated the 300 dolls, now lives in retirement at Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge.

"I've written to her expressing our appreciation and inviting her to the events," Brunow said.