Family celebrates 50 years of sweet tradition

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Candy making is a sweet affair for Jim and Jane Melrose.

The couple celebrates the holidays every year with their children, grandchildren and extended family and friends by having a gathering in their home to make hard crack candy in an event that lasts all day, starting at 9 a.m. and until 10 p.m.

The couple is celebrating 50 years of having friends and family gather to make the sweets the Friday after Thanksgiving. Over 100 people attend annually, but not all at once, as people come and go all day.

Jim and Jane recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

The cherished tradition which brings family and friends from as far as Florida, California, West Virginia and Ohio for the day started when Jim’s sister, Dianne, and her husband, Jeff Bowden, went to a candy celebration in Tampa, Florida in 1969. 

Dianne fell in love with the event and with her husband started their own candy party to help raise money for a church fundraiser. From there, the candy event continued even as they moved to other states until her brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Jane, took it over in 1992.

Jane rents a huge white tent for the backyard complete with cooling tables, where the hard candy on trays is taken to cool and harden before it goes back to the house to be cracked up and bagged.

The event gets bigger every year, with candy makers all over the house. The dining room table is filled with amazing food brought in by everyone who attends.

During the 12-hour day, they make over 216 pounds of candy (108 batches of hard candy). Everyone who helps leaves with not only a bag of candy, but also a T-shirt honoring the event.

Even the family dogs, Beau and Bella, enjoy the event, since when it’s over they enjoy some of the powdered sugar that made it either onto the children or the floor.

It’s a fun, happy event for all who attend, as the house is constantly filled with laughter and some really great candy.

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