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Erik Burgess, Published October 19 2013

CCRI parties with thanks to jilted bride

FARGO – If Shena Holtgrewe could have just one superpower, it’d be the power to transform into anything she pleased.

Holtgrewe got that wish on Saturday, when she arrived at the Creative Care for Reaching Independence Halloween party in a sparkling red cape and tights.

She had transformed, even if just for an evening, into Supergirl.

Saturday marked the first time in the past five years that CCRI, a Moorhead organization that serves people with disabilities, was able to put on a big Halloween party, said executive director Shannon Bock.

It was made possible by a jilted Fargo bride, Michelle Marxen, who had already booked her reception at the Fargo Ramada’s Crystal Ballroom when her then-fiancé called the wedding off. The ceremony would’ve been Saturday.

“It is a huge thing for us,” Bock said. “Our folks often don’t have times when they can get together in big spaces and enjoy friendship and enjoy lots of fun activities.”

Marxen and her family donated the reception hall to CCRI in late August, Bock said. CCRI had been in the news at the time, trying to get Taylor Swift to come to their “Walk ’n’ Roll-a-thon” fundraiser in September, which Bock believes pushed their name into the forefront of Marxen’s mind.

“We cannot express enough gratitude to Michelle and her family for thinking of us and really knowing what a difference it makes for the people we support,” Bock said.

Marxen was not at the CCRI bash on Saturday. Bock said Marxen and her family took a trip to Las Vegas so that they wouldn’t be in town on the day of her canceled wedding.

“I’m sure she’s probably down and out about it,” said Chantal Kraemer, a North Dakota State University sophomore who works with Holtgrewe, “but I read that she’s happy that it’s going to a good cause, and I know everyone here is really excited.”

Preview of possibilities

The ballroom was packed Saturday with more than 200 of CCRI’s clients and staff.

Buzz Lightyear, Batgirl, a mobster with a plastic Tommy gun and Popeye the Sailor Man with two tattooed guns of his own all made appearances. CCRI serves about 360 clients.

“This is a special occasion for CCRI,” said Pam Grugel, 37, a CCRI client from Moorhead who came dressed as a red-nosed clown. “I’m going to have fun tonight.”

Big parties have become harder to schedule for CCRI because their current facility at 725 Center Ave. is too small to handle their growing number of clients, Bock said.

That should change by next year. CCRI is in the process of moving into a larger building at 2903 15th St. S. in Moorhead, which will allow for more big events, Bock said. They hope to be in that new space by late spring or early summer 2014.

“This is just a preview of what could come in the future,” Bock said.

Holtgrewe, or Supergirl as she was known for the afternoon, said she was “a little worried” that Marxen didn’t get to have her wedding.

Still, Holtgrewe kept a cheery demeanor and said she was thankful for the chance to have a party with her friends.

“I get to have fun in the meantime,” she said with an ear-to-ear smile.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518