Pleasant Hills mother-daughter duo share love of Barbie with community
Kim Fancsali would spend hours playing with Barbies as a little girl.
She envisioned herself someday wearing the same fur hat and scarf her Barbie wore.
There was just something special about the doll.
“For me, it was the clothes,” said Kim Fancsali, of Pleasant Hills.
Kim Fancsali passed her love of the iconic toy down to her daughter Susan, and today, the pair host community events for kids focused on Mattel’s main lady.
They started two years ago with a “Dolls of the World” event at Jefferson Hills Public Library. On Dec. 6, their fourth event focused on Holiday Barbie at Pleasant Hills Public Library.
“What I like about Barbie, especially now, is that you can be whatever you want to be, as cliche and as cheesy as that sounds,” said Susan Fancsali.
As a child, Kim Fancsali saw Barbie a constant who she could play with while her mom worked a busy schedule.
After she became a mother herself, Kim Fancsali began collecting the dolls in 1989.
“It was my outlet,” said Kim Fancsali, who had two boys at the time. “I’m playing with Matchbox cars and Nintendo and helping Mario jump over the little brick. This would be my little thing that I had.”
When Susan was born in 1992, Kim Fancsali bought her all the Barbies she could ever want — even before she was old enough to play with them.
The mother-daughter best friends from Pleasant Hills formed a special bond over Barbie — one they also shared with Kim Fancsali’s mom, Connie Wible.
Like Kim Fancsali, Susan loved to play with Barbie growing up. She had a house for the dolls so big, she swears it had to be for a larger doll than the pint-sized Barbie.
Over the years, the pair collected more than 1,000 dolls. Most are still in boxes.
After Kim Fancsali’s mom died last year, the Barbies became a nice memory of their time together, she said.
Sharing the love
Kim Fancsali’s collection includes all of Mattel’s Holiday Barbies dating back to 1988. She even has their matching Hallmark ornaments and sets including the Holiday Singing Sisters, one of which she has from 2000 that still plays music.
Kim Fancsali almost didn’t have the first Holiday Barbie. She started collecting one year after they went into production. But Susan Fancsali went on a hunt and paid top dollar to get the doll for her mom as a present.
The Holiday Barbie collection lines shelves in Susan Fancsali’s bedroom.
Susan Fancsali, who won the the USA Ambassador Miss Pennsylvania title in July and previously was USA National Miss Pennsylvania 2015, always looks for ways to give back.
“For pageants, some girls just show up for parades, and I want to do something that means something,” Susan Fancsali said.
As the mother-daughter duo were shopping at Walmart, Susan Fancsali found Barbie clothes on sale for 25 cents.
She had to buy them and do something with them.
She pitched the idea to her mom: “Why don’t we host an event? Barbie!”
And thus their Barbie parties in the community were born. Their recent event at Pleasant Hills Library drew an enthusiastic group of Barbie’s biggest fans.
At the programs, they invite youngsters from the community to learn about Barbie’s history.
“Did you know Barbie has a last name? Her full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts,” Susan Fancsali told the group of young girls, mostly decked out in pink.
The two share facts about Barbie and tell the little ones that they learned all of this from reading a book.
Pam Arroyo brought her 3-year-old daughter, Summer, to the program.
“It’s a nice little mother-daughter night out to have some fun,” Arroyo said.
Each girl took home a present that included Barbies and clothes.
As she took a peek at the bottom of the box, Danna Camarripa, 7, of Pleasant Hills, got a big smile on her face and exclaimed: “I think I have to take this one off my list!”
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.