A royal engagement

San Diego sisters bring princess parties to Chico

Photo by Ashiah Scharaga

Once upon a time, a pair of sisters traveled across California, beginning their fairytale story of bringing magic and delight to the children of Chico. Kelley Sexton, 31, and Shannon Rowley, 21, launched Chico Princess Parties this month. The dancers/singers and former ballet instructors practically grew up in their mother’s dance studio in San Diego. Their closeness is tangible—they often finish one another’s sentences and echo each other’s giggles. “Our joke is that Shannon is the fairy godmother of the company. She creates the magic,” Sexton said. “I am the one behind the scenes that makes sure Cinderella actually gets home on time with both shoes.” In addition to hosting parties, they also love to bring princesses—and superheroes—to hospitals to visit sick children. A quaint cottage at 4 Williamsburg Lane in Chico is where the sisters and their cast of princesses host story and tea time, as well as dance/gymnastic/etiquette classes. Princesses often travel to parks and houses for parties. For more info, call 809-1666 or go to chicoprincessparties.com or the company’s Facebook/Instagram.

What happens at a princess party?

Rowley: For our birthdays, the princess gets to walk in and we just watch the children light up …

Sexton: … and they just freeze sometimes, it’s really cute. It’s like a celebrity, and most of them …

Rowley: … get star-struck. We do a big story time, get the kids all involved, all of our performers sing, we do face-painting at all of our parties, balloon animals, henna, all sorts of fun things.

Sexton: We have our diva package—that’s when they get their hair, nails and makeup done and we roll out a red carpet. They strut their stuff and they get a photo shoot with that one. … Some kids don’t want to do princesses. We also do superheroes.

What does being a princess entail?

Sexton: It’s hard—we have to find someone who has the face, the voice, the acting skills, the personality, likes kids.

Rowley: We’re very detail- savvy on all our characters. We have to know, like, who is the brother’s/sister’s daughter that was once removed that’s now a snowman? ’Cause kids know everything.

Why do you enjoy doing this?

Sexton: You just can’t help smiling talking about it. It never feels like a job or like work.

Rowley: My favorite part is the first initial reaction I get when the kid opens the door and sees me as a princess. And they’re like, “Oh my gosh, Ariel is at my doorstep!” It’s a dream come true for parents. I’ve gone to parties and a little girl will be like, “I don’t even like Tinkerbell, I wanted dinosaurs.” And the mom’s like, “Tinkerbell’s my favorite character!” It’s for everyone. One time, as Cinderella, I had to give a little lecture about how being a true princess and big girl [means] using the potty. But [her mom] said it worked, so there you go! Happily ever after.