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Wildfire Wedding
(Photo courtesy of Tom Tilton)

Everything had gone off without a hitch by Saturday morning, but the afternoon came unraveled for a wedding party at Little America.

Don Campbell, from College Station, Texas, couldn't wait to call the Daily Sun office Monday to recount what had happened to his daughter Hannah Campbell's wedding over the weekend.

"We planned that wedding for five months, but God did that in two hours," he said on the phone. "We definitely want to give God all the glory."

MEETING IN THE MIDDLE

What had been glorious was the help his family received from local businesses when the Hardy fire forced the cancellation of Hannah's wedding, set for 6 p.m. at the hotel.

Campbell, who grew up in Globe, said the family of the groom, Casey Cotter, was from San Diego.

"We met in the middle," he said, because Flagstaff is about halfway between Texas and California.

When a wildfire broke out about 1:30 in the afternoon, just south of the hotel, the wedding picture darkened.

"Little America staff said they had to evacuate, and they didn't know if we were going to have the wedding," Campbell said. "By 4 o'clock, they said, 'We're not going to be able to have a wedding.'"

What happened next is close to a miracle.

Campbell had a niece working at Forest Highlands who was able to put them in touch with the golf club.

"Forest Highlands set us up, and we had the wedding out there in a matter of three hours," the dad said.

MANAGERS HELP OUT

Campbell said Brandon Pritchett, the Forest Highlands manager, made all the arrangements and even set up a dance floor.

Then Jackson's Grill at the Springs, on South Highway 89A, stepped in to help and completely catered a delicious wedding buffet in the clubhouse.

Staff at Little America, despite dealing with an evacuation order, also came over to help at Forest Highlands.

Brenda Naughton, the catering manager and wedding coordinator at Little America, took down all the wedding decorations she had just had put up, moved them and set them up at Forest Highlands.

"She was phenomenal," Campbell said.

ONLY ONE HOUR LATE

The wedding, on the grass overlooking the golf course, was lovely

"The wedding started at about 7 o'clock," Campbell said. "We were just about an hour behind, and every guest found their way."

To top it off, the Radisson Woodlands Hotel provided seven rooms for wedding guests, including Campbell and his wife Mary, on a mere two-hour notice.

"At this point, Forest Highlands has not charged us anything," he said. "It was such a community effort. They made it just a wedding that will be remembered forever."

Hannah and Casey, both 25, who will live in Southern California, are on their honeymoon in Las Vegas.

To finish off this feel-good story, after staff at Caesars Palace heard about their wedding day, they upgraded them to a suite.

Betsey Bruner can be reached at bbruner@azdailysun.com or 556-2255.

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