When Sarah Miller opened Once Upon a Celebration last year, she was certain there was a ready market for her children's parties and special events business.
The Highland resident was not wrong.
"At first it was very slow, but now it is really booming," Miller said. "We have been doing a lot of charity work and public appearances which has really helped get the word out about our services, and now we are booked with multiple events or parties each weekend."
That keeps pre-kindergarten, dance and cheer teacher Miller quite busy when she's not choreographing community theater musicals.
The business move was a natural one for Miller, who once worked as a fairy tale princess and has a degree in early childhood education,
"I worked as a princess for a similar company in the area when I was a teenager and loved every minute of it. Who wouldn't love to get paid to be a princess?" Miller said.
After a friend with whom she had worked as a teen opened his business in Texas, Miller said he urged her to do likewise. She said the company for which they had worked no longer exists and there is a need in Northwest Indiana.
Paul Celestin, of Highland, would agree.
When planning their son Logan's soon-to-be fourth birthday party, Celestin said he and his wife researched well before engaging Once Upon a Celebration and could not have been happier with the results.
"They were phenomenal ... intensely professional," Celestin said.
Celestin said he was most impressed the company provided a Captain America that sustained his son's fantasy and was well researched.
"They're not just in costume. They're actors," he said of those employed by the company. "He (Captain America) played the part beautifully. He commanded the backyard party. My son still talks of it."
Miller said she no longer portrays any of the characters, but her many theater friends do.
"Either my partner (Anthony Lewis) or I attend all the parties and events," she said.
"Recently, we did a Belle party in which I had the girl playing Belle sing a song from the movie at the party. She was sitting on a bench with the children from the party all around her," Miller said. "At first, Belle was singing by herself, and the children were enamored. About half way through the song the birthday girl held Belle's hand and began to sing with Belle. She was very young and knew all the words.
"They finished the song together, and I had a few tears in my eyes because it was so adorable. I was thinking to myself that this girl will always remember the birthday that she got to sing a duet with Belle, and that my company made that happen," she said.
Eventually, Miller said she would like to devote all her time to the business, buy more character costumes and own a site for the parties to be held.