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Black Forest evacuees find cheer at Father's Day barbeque

June 16, 2013 Updated: June 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm
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photo - Dimitar Georgiev, 11, gets ready to have his photo taken with characters from the Art of Healing Black Forest Fire Entertainment Groups outside the Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge High School, Sunday, June 16, 2013. According to the Red Cross, Dimitar is the only child left in the shelter. The Knights of Columbus Council 14398 and Art of Healing Entertainment Group organized a celebration of Fathers' Day for the evacuated families at the school.  PHOTO BY JUNFU HAN, THE GAZETTE.
Dimitar Georgiev, 11, gets ready to have his photo taken with characters from the Art of Healing Black Forest Fire Entertainment Groups outside the Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge High School, Sunday, June 16, 2013. According to the Red Cross, Dimitar is the only child left in the shelter. The Knights of Columbus Council 14398 and Art of Healing Entertainment Group organized a celebration of Fathers' Day for the evacuated families at the school. PHOTO BY JUNFU HAN, THE GAZETTE. 

Dimitar Georgiev, 11, was the only kid remaining Sunday at the Red Cross shelter set up at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, but that didn't stop him from dressing as Harry Potter and celebrating Father's Day.

"We're having an awesome barbecue and party here," Dimitar said, joined by his father, Valentin.

The Georgievs, from Bulgaria, were evacuated Tuesday from their home on Meadow Glen Lane because of the Black Forest fire. They said their house was still standing according to the El Paso County Sheriff's assessment updates.

"Our house is fine, but I can't live there yet because there's lots of dead trees and smoke there still," Dimitar said. "We have to wait until everything is OK again."

Members of the Knights of Columbus from Colorado Springs, Security and Englewood volunteered to cook and serve a Father's Day feast complete with barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, bread and salads donated by Care & Share, and topped off with cakes donated by Sam's Club.

Bailey Callahan, 16, joined her father, Pat, a nine-year grand knight from Englewood, as they volunteered to cook and serve the holiday dinner.

"I couldn't get him a gift because I don't have any money," Bailey said, cooking corn and gravy with the rest of the Knights of Columbus volunteers.

"This is the best Father's Day present she can give me," Pat said. "We don't have much money to donate, but time and talent often go much further in helping out."

Anita Kuhn, a freelance artist from Colorado Springs, doned a bright fairy costume, along with several other entertainers who volunteered to paint faces, make balloon animals and try to put a smile on the shelter residents' and other evacuees' faces.

"I almost lost my home twice during the Hayman fire, so I know how traumatizing it can be for people to go through an experience like this," Kuhn said. "But being a little silly, a little playful, helps out. Seeing a child's face light up when it's all painted and they smile, it really means a lot."

"I want to get my face painted and eat lots of cake," Dimitar said, twirling a tie as a make-shift magic wand. His father said they hoped to return to their home around Tuesday, calling his Black Forest neighborhood, "quiet, full of trees, a really good place to live."

Autumn Mihm, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said the Palmer Ridge shelter had 27 residents remaining Sunday. She said about 60 people attended the Father's Day event.

"The amount of residents has really decreased as people have been allowed to re-enter their homes," Mihm said. "But we will keep the shelter open as long as it's needed."

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