Courtesy Ray Ronchetti Ray Ronchetti in his crown on his 80th birthday
At age 8, Kim Carey made her dad, Ray Ronchetti, a crown for his 32nd birthday with the help of her little sister Gina Chandler.
Nearly 50 years later the siblings are still going strong, most recently for his 80th birthday celebration at home in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, last February.
"We know it's silly, but our father and our grown children — who have never seen 'Pappy' eat his birthday dinner without a crown — would be disappointed if we stopped," says Carey. "It makes him so happy. He likes the surprise of seeing it every year."
Despite their growing families, the sisters still create the birthday crown themselves, planning about one month in advance every year.
Courtesy Ray Ronchetti Ray Ronchetti in his crown on his 35th birthday
Each crown over the course of the past 48 years has had a different theme, from a Packers Super Bowl topper and an Olympics-themed headpiece to one that featured Ronchetti's best sayings, or "Pappyisms."
"One year we decided to make words using Hershey's Kisses," Carey recalls, "so it kept falling because it was so heavy. But regardless, every year, we'd have it on his plate for his birthday dinner."
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When COVID-19 kept the family apart in 2021, Carey left the crown on her dad's doorstep and had a celebration by Zoom. But with family get-togethers back and her father retired and in good health, "I think we'll be doing this forever," says Carey.