Three-year-old Addison Drake’s doll wasn’t lost, her parents told her; she was “on vacation.” Little did they know the Windsor girl’s doll really was on an adventure, sampling peanut-butter frosted pastries at the Mackinaw Bakery and posing for pictures with Miss Michigan.
Dan Reynolds, a shuttle bus driver for the Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry, discovered the yellow-haired, moon-faced doll on a dock in mid-July. He has found forgotten toys and jackets before, but nothing as cute as “Dolly.”
“She was just so beautiful,” he said. “We knew there was a girl out there who missed her doll.”
After seeing the little doll atop a pile in the lost and found, the ferry’s marketing manager, Heather Tamlyn, tried to reunite her with her owner by posting pictures of the toy to the ferry line’s Facebook page.
“Dolly has had fun riding the boat this week,” says the caption of a photo of the doll on the ferry. “But she misses her person very much! Please help Dolly find her way home!”
Next came pictures of Dolly hanging out with boy scouts; learning to ride a horse; and filing a missing persons report for her owner with the Mackinaw City police chief. Last week, Dolly was photographed trying on Miss Michigan Emily Kieliszewski’s tiara during story time at a library.
The pictures of Dolly made the rounds on social media with the hashtag #HelpDollyHome. The Facebook posts were shared thousands of times and caught the attention of local news.
Tamlyn said she was awestruck by how the social media campaign blew up. She sympathized with the missing doll’s family, she said, because her own daughter was once inseparable from a purple stuffed elephant named Lumpy.
When Addison’s mom Meg reached out to her on Facebook, Tamlyn cried.
“I didn’t realize how attached I had become to the outcome,” she said. “That was the ultimate success.”
Meg identified Dolly as her daughter Addison’s doll, “Little Addison.” They bought the doll at Chapters a year and a half ago, to be Addison’s travel buddy on a trip to Chicago.
They lost the doll on their three-day trip to Mackinaw Island and only realized it was missing on the way home.
They had no idea where it was, or even where to look for it, Meg said, so they told Addison the doll was prolonging her vacation.
“She was super trusting,” Meg recalled. “She was like, ‘Oh OK, Little Addison’s on vacation.’ And then we tried to distract her with other things.
“The best part is the doll actually was on vacation. It couldn’t have worked out better for us, and our lie,” she added, with a laugh.
Meg stumbled on pictures of Little Addison while browsing Facebook on Sunday.
They showed Addison the pictures of her doll sight-seeing in and around Mackinac Island. “What’s my doll doing with those people?” Addison asked. “Why is my doll there? My doll needs to come home.”
Tamlyn, the ferry line’s marketing manager, was too attached to the doll to ship it in a box, she said, so she drove it to Gaylord, Mich., where local journalist John Gonzalez picked it up and drove it the remaining three and a half hours to Windsor.
Little Addison was reunited with a stunned Addison and her relieved and delighted parents on Friday, putting an end to the doll’s extended vacation.