ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s not every day you see firefighters with their pinkies in the air sipping tea, but last month the Bernalillo County Fire Department threw a special tea party.
At just four years old Kassidy McConnell is a tea party expert. She knows just how to keep her pinky perfect.
“You have to keep it up,” said Kassidy.
She’s got the curtsy down and even the British accent. Having tea parties is a tradition passed down through multiple generations in Kassidy’s family. Her mom Amy used to have tea parties with her grandmother.
“We used to go to tea together so I get to kinda impart a little bit of that on with her, just kinda teach her some of the things I thought were important and fun,” said Amy McConnell.
But Kassidy’s favorite tea party partner is the most special man in her life.
“I want to be a firefighter like my dad,” said Kassidy.
Kassidy’s father is Bernalillo County Firefighter Mark McConnell.
“My daughter started doing tea parties with her mom when I was at work and she just loves it. She really enjoyed it and so I started having some tea with her on the weekends,” said Mark.
But for Kassidy that wasn’t enough.
Kassidy said, “I wanted to spend more time with my dad.”
So she made a special request.
“Eventually she just asked me and said ‘Dad, I really want to have a tea party with you and your friends at work’ and so, I couldn’t tell her no,” said Mark McConnell.
But Mark didn’t know how well that would go over.
Mark McConnell said, “The fire department is definitely an alpha male environment. I think I was really expecting to be teased more.”
Instead, department officials embraced the idea. With help from the St. James Tearoom and their photographer Andres Salazar, McConnell organized the event. He invited Kassidy and 3-year-old Kaylee, the granddaughter of Deputy Chief Scott Aragon, to the department for a lunch-time tea at the end of April.
“We had cookies and sandwiches and cupcakes and also we had tea,” said Kassidy.
“It couldn’t have made me any happier. She was overwhelmed with joy, it was amazing to see,” said Mark.
Even a few of McConnell’s fellow firefighters got into the act.
“They actually had a lot of fun with it. Everybody started getting the tea party hats and before I knew it the chief was even wearing a little top hat. It was a lot of fun,” said Mark.
Kassidy even helped make some of the food they served.
“I love cookies,” said Kassidy.
But Kassidy says the best part of the day was who she spent it with.
“I got to be with my dad and my mom and my little brother,” said Kassidy.
This was the first ever Bernalillo County Fire Department tea party but officials say it probably won’t be the last. Next time, they would like to invite more of the firefighters’ children and members of the public.