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TOWANDA - On June 21, 36 women will drink a toast, step on a chartered bus and head to Midway Airport in Chicago.

They'll while away their travel time playing games, singing and, of course, eating and drinking.

But the real partying will start after they step off the plane in Las Vegas.

Anne Leischner of Weldon wants to dance on the Coyote Ugly bar. Brandi Stockton of Gridley is looking forward to getting a tattoo. And Linda Kerz of Bloomington has the Thunder Down Under male strip show on her "to do" list.

It's all part of what has become the biennial trip celebrating Pixie Clemons' birthday.

"The purpose is to relax and have fun," said Clemons of Towanda. "We have women from 21 to 70 going, and there's something for everyone."

The now well-orchestrated, four-day venture all started in 1992 when Clemons was turning 34 and decided she wanted to celebrate in Las Vegas.

She asked a few friends and 11 women ended up joining her on the trip.

They had such a good time, Clemons decided to organize another trip a couple of years later. Seventeen women went that time.

The next trip drew 19, the fourth had 30, and this year there will be a record 38. (Two women will meet the group at the airport in Chicago.)

Some of the women work with Clemons at State Farm Insurance Cos. Others are friends of friends.

Sandy Fedden of Hudson invited her sister-in-law, and Cricket Miller of Hudson will be joined by her sister and niece.

Amanda Cline of Normal is taking her mom, Sue Weger. Four-time Clemon's Vegas trip-goer Patty McBride of El Paso is taking her daughter, Katie.

Even Clemons' daughter, Kody, gets to make the trip this year.

"She told me on my 21st birthday, she'd take me out there and pay for the trip," said Kody. She turns 21 on June 15.

Clemons has organizing the trip down to a fine art. She has five helpers - Fedden, Miller, Cline, Patti Martinez and Kerry Harper - but also depends on everyone's input for arranging events.

The group meets several times before the trip.

While most of what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas, Clemons said, "We have so much fun, some stories just get out somehow."

The group always has a black-and-white night when everyone dresses in the two colors and goes out on the town as a group. Two years ago, they rented a white Hummer limousine for the night.

Inevitably, the group ends up serenading someone somewhere. Once they sang "Going to the Chapel" to a couple on their plane. Another time they broke into song at Caesar's Palace.

"At one of our favorite stops, the Stage Door (casino,) we had 28 gals singing," Clemons said. Some favorite tunes are "Build Me Up Buttercup," "I will Survive" and "Walkin' After Midnight."

While there are always prearranged events, no one is required to go anywhere. "The advantage of going in a group is that there's always somebody that wants to do what you want to do," Clemons said.

"You get to meet new people," said Carrie Harper of Hudson.

And on a trip to Las Vegas, there's always the chance that you'll win some money. That happened to Valerie DuBree on her second trip with the group.

"The first night I was there, I won $5,000 playing blackjack," said DuBree of Lexington.

Since then it's been a different story. "The ATM pays out the most to me," she said.


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