Tag Archives: Idaho

A Willy Wonka of Idaho

willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-gene-wilder-image-600x337When Jackson McKenzie was in the sixth grade, he felt like his life was pretty boring. So, at a school show-and-tell he decided to beef things up a bit. “I made up that I liked to beat world records,” he says. Fueled by a lifelong love of reading Guinness World Records – “I’ve read every one since 2000” – McKenzie had stuck his foot firmly in his mouth. But then, something magical happened. After contacting the Guinness people and finding out that the easiest record to beat was creating the world’s largest M&M mosaic, he actually made his show-and-tell proclamation come true.

“I did it,” he says. His mosaic was a picture of a tree, a monkey and a sun. He glued the M&Ms onto a plastic grid and created the whole thing in his room. “But, it wasn’t official.”

Now, McKenzie wants to do it again, only this time, he wants to make it really matter. He has contacted the Guinness folks, and knows what “evidence” is required. He has designed his creation – a 124-square-foot mosaic that includes the state of Idaho and a snippet of our state song, “Here We Have Idaho.” (The current record is: 74.92 square feet.) McKenzie estimates it will take close to 30,000 M&Ms.

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

With the help of his dad (Idaho State Sen. Curtis McKenzie), he reserved the rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol for two weeks to allow he and his team to assemble the mosaic. “We will be working from July 27 to August 9 and the record breaking mosaic will be in display the following week,” McKenzie says.

Originally, he posted his project at $6,000 on Kickstarter, but he says he overestimated the costs. His new goal is $3,500 and he has a website set up for fundraising at http://jacksonmckenzie.com/.

Anything he receives over the amount needed for materials – M&Ms, Elmer’s Glue, a plastic grid, and paper and wood for support – McKenzie plans on giving to Go On Idaho, http://www.go-on-idaho.org/, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Idahoans continue education past high school.

So, if you want to help McKenzie actually make his sixth grade declaration a reality, send him some M&M money. In addition to his website, you can contact him by phone – 899-0753 – or email: mckenziexjackson@gmail.com. He says all project finances, including every donation and expenditure, will be tracked and publicly accessible on his website.

Whadya say, a little help to help jazz up McKenzie’s summer – and to give summer tourists something extra to see at the capitol?

Let’s do it!

Go, Jackson McKenzie!

Go M&Ms!

Go, Idaho!

Or, in the words of Willy Wonka: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…”

For real.


Good Halloween history!

murder-knife-project366-701098-lMurderers. Convicts. Prisoners. Death row. Who needs a haunted house when you can have a haunted prison? It sounds like a chain rattling event: “Frightened Felons Halloween” at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, 2445 Old Penitentiary Road (off Warm Springs). The Old Pen is going to creak open its prison gates from 6 to 10 p.m. on Halloween eve for spooky tours for all ages — plus tales of executions and escapes, a costume contest and more.

“The Old Pen’s rich — and sometimes spooky — history is a perfect setting to celebrate Halloween,” said Janet Gallimore, executive director of the Idaho State Historical Society. “This event uses one of our state’s most significant historical assets to offer a unique alternative to fabricated haunted houses.”
The Old Idaho Pen has attracted national ghostbusters.
Take your ghastly pick from a ghost, execution or escape tour. There will be a kid-friendly scavenger hunt to “catch the felon” with candy and prizes, a costume contest and even spooky tales: the Treasure Valley Storytellers will tell fact-based fictional stories throughout the night. Snacks and beverages will be available next door at The Bishop’s House, courtesy of The Friends of the Bishop’s House.

Tickets are $10 for ages 12 and up or $8 for children 6 – 12. Families with younger kiddies can come early for child-appropriate tours from 6 p.m.- 8:30 p.m., and take part in the costume contest at 7 p.m. After 8:30 p.m. the spook level gets cranked up a notch for ages 12 and up when tours showcasing the Old Pen’s “darker” side start. NOTE: This event is NOT recommended for children under the age of 5, and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

For more information: 334–2844.
Learn more about the Idaho State Historical Society at www.idahohistory.net.

Super good news!

“Faster than a speeding bullet! Stronger than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane … it’s — SUPERMAN!”

My grandson Max wishes he was Superman. He LOVES to dress up as the good-doer — and I love it too. I call out the famous lines from the quote above and he “flies” around the back yard, fighting crime and saving lives.

Superman.Belle.RobotsBut this is a story about another little boy named Abiyu who wished he could be Superman. And, for just one day, his wish came true — thanks to those kind-hearted and generous folks at the Make-A-Wish Foundation and their “super” friends: the Idaho Army and Air National Guard (special shout-out to Dawn Groat, Public Affairs Assistant & Community Support Specialist at Gowen Field), St. Alphonsus LifeFlight, volunteers, area businesses — and the Idaho Food Bank.

Abiyu is as real a Superman as it gets.

Abiyu, er, Superman, that is, may be a bit short in stature and age (he’s only six-years-old), but he’s got a big, Superman-sized heart and courage beyond belief. Abiyu (the name means “the Great One”) came all the way from Ethiopia and was adopted recently. And the reason he got his Make-A-Wish dream come true: this superguy has a life-threatening medical condition.

But that didn’t stop him from donning the famous blue and red suit and cape, “flying” in (via LifeFlight helicopter) to save Belle (of Beauty and the Beast fame) from the evil robot Queen and her robot clan — and then stopping over at the Idaho Food Bank — where he was joined by even more Superheroes (his adopted family).

At the Food Bank, Superman Abiyu got some super assistance from Spiderman (brother Grant), Word Girl (sister Ella), Iron Man (dad John) and Robot Queen (mom Marissa). Also on hand was Food Warrior (Shellie Harvath) and two Backpack Girls (Alisha Keezer and Jennifer Edwards), from the Foodbank staff.
They all packed food into backpacks that help feed hungry kids over weekends when school food isn’t available, said the Foodbank’s director of communications David Proctor. “You can only imagine how many backpacks Superman can fill. He was fast!”

The Make A Wish Foundation grants a wish every 40 minutes. Wanna help make dreams come true? Go to the Web site: http://www.wish.org/

Day 9: Home is where the heart is

Have you seen this man at Kmart?

Have you seen this man at Kmart?

Well, it actually took 11 hours. We drove through antelope and big bird country, sun, rain and even snow!

We saw osprey nests

and drove through the same country traveled by pioneers heading West on the Oregon Trail. It was beautiful.

At Jackson Hole, I stopped at the Kmart and talked to a few of the locals. I decided to conduct a completely unscientific poll:

Me: Hey, do you ever see Harrison Ford shopping here?
Local woman: No, he wouldn’t shop at Kmart. I’ve seen him around town in lots of places, but never in Kmart.
Local woman’s husband: He’s a regular guy. I’ve seen him around town. He’s the kind of guy who’d come in and buy his own garden hose.

We wended our way home, Payton and I, and we only got lost once. I called and got directions from Joe, my son-in-law, who told me that I was headed for Montana, not Boise. Easy enough fix, I just turned around!

We stopped and saw some lava mounds at a rest area between Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, but other than that, we just raced to get home.

It’s true that being a sort of vagabond, living out on the road, has its charm. But, hey, every day is a wonderful new gift, and what’s going to happen, what’s around that corner — I can’t wait to find out!

And also true: There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

Who knows? But I’m excited about it!!

Good cause!

Here's a shot from last year's Pink in the Rink. Steve Conner Photography.

Here's a shot from last year's Pink in the Rink. Steve Conner Photography.

Get in the pink
Pink in the rink, that is.

The Idaho Steelheads and St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) are joining forces to host the fundraiser, ‘Pink in the Rink’ on Wednesday, March 25th, Friday, March 27th and Saturday, March 28th to help women get the testing they need to prevent breast cancer. We’re talking about women who can’t afford life-saving mammograms or other testing procedures.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Idaho women. Last year in Idaho, it was the second leading cause of death among women ages 35-54 and accounts for more than twice as many deaths as any other type of cancer. Overall, annual screening mammograms could prevent 15-30 percent of all deaths from breast cancer among Idaho women as early detection significantly increases survival rates. In the first two months of this year, the need for financial assistance in St. Luke’s Breast Care Services for mammograms was up 23 percent.

Here’s how you can get in on the fun — and help in big and little ways:

1. Go to one or all of the Pink in the Rink games.
Discounted game tickets can be purchased at St. Luke’s gift shops, along with one-of-a kind Pink in the Rink ball caps and t-shirts, with proceeds going to the cause.

2. Take your mad money to the games.
There will be silent auction tables lines with bidding sheets for your favorite player’s Pink in the Rink jersey. The Idaho Steelheads will wear one-of-a-kind pink jerseys for the three-game series and the Steelheads are playing the Ontario Reign, a new team this year. The front side of the jerseys depict a large pink breast cancer awareness ribbon that extends to the left arm and around the back and a smaller pink ribbon is on the right arm. The Steelheads primary logo is on the front center in shades of pink, black and silver with the secondary logo on each shoulder. The St. Luke’s crest is on the left chest.

Fans may bid on their favorite player’s jersey in increments of $100 and/or buy it outright for $2,000. The jerseys will be presented to the winning bidder by the player immediately following Saturday’s game. All of the dollars raised from the jersey auction will go to St. Luke’s.

3. Think and wear your pink.
Game tickets can be purchased at St. Luke’s gift shops, along with one-of-a kind Pink in the Rink ball caps and t-shirts, with proceeds going to the cause.

$133,000 has been raised over the past several years with similar jersey auctions, benefiting various causes at the hospital. In March of 2006, the Steelheads held the first Pink in the Rink event and raised a record (at that time) $21,791 for breast cancer care and treatment through St. Luke’s (MSTI).

You can go to the Web site for tickets, more details:

Good shopping cents!

images-2“My momma told me— you better shop around…”

If you’ve got that shopping bug but don’t want to dip into your grocery money, cheer up, call a friend, put on your shopping duds, jump in the car — and don’t forget your purse! You can get some great bargains, there are lots of sales right now. Here are a few places to get started:

Again Consignment Clothing, 222 East State Street in Eagle. Winter clothing is halp-price, but get this: they’re having a $3 sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7! There’s so much going into the $3 bins, they had to rent the space next door! Tip: Get there early for the best stuff.

American Clothing Gallery, 100 N. 8th Street. Winter merch is 75% off!

Atomic Treasures, 409 S. 8th St. First Thursday discounts on EVERYTHING! Tip: They just added HUNDREDS of boots to their inventory!

Karen Louise Fashion Boutique, 625 W. Main St. EVERYTHING in the store is on sale, 25% to 50% off!! Tip: Open until 9 p.m. on First Thursday.

Helly Hansen, 860 W. Broad St. (Almost) everything in the store is marked down: 30% to 50%!

The Record Exchange, 310 N. 9th St. First Thursday special: $2 off any used CD or DVD ($5.99 & up) — ALL DAY LONG. In the gift shop: $2 off any sale gift over $5.99. In the coffee shop: $2 off 12-ounce espresso drinks.

Snake River Winery, 786 W. Broad St. 20 % off all case sales.

White House Black Market, 836 W. Broad St., $25 off your purchase of $125 or more, or $50 off $200 or more.

Know of any other good sales? Let me know and I’ll get spread the good shopping news: jeannehuff@gmail.com

Good grades!

You’ve heard the gloomy stories about our ill-equipped youth and the shoddy education our kids are getting compared to those on the global circuit. Well, here’s a news item that will put a smile on your face: Capital High School was recently awarded the 2009 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement. It was one of only 50 handed out in the U.S. and the only one given to an Idaho school. Advanced Placement, or AP classes are actually college level classes for students in high school.

“AP at Capital High School is changing students’ lives,” said Capital principal Jon Ruzicka. “Through college-level AP courses, students enter a universe of knowledge that might otherwise remain unexplored in high school; through AP exams students have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of our nation’s colleges and universities.”

And so, Don, tell us what they’ve won:
— $1,000 grant to support math and science education
— A featured article in the Feb. 23 USA Today newspaper
— A listing on the Siemens Foundation Web site:

Borah High School won this award in 2005-2006.

If you know of any young person, school or organization that deserves a pat on the back, please send information to: jeannehuff@gmail.com.

For more information, go to the Boise Schools Web site: