The stork paid a visit to Roselle Park earlier this month to the Rhodes family. Not the proverbial stork but a cardboard one courtesy of 1st Ward Councilman Eugene Meola. Late last year, the councilman announced that he would like to celebrate any new babies born in the borough by placing a novelty stork on the family’s front lawn. He wanted to kick off his initiative by celebrating Roselle Park’s first newborn of 2016.
Enter Heidi Rhodes, literally.
On January, 13th of this year at 2:50 in the afternoon, the Rhodes family, and Roselle Park, welcomed Heidi into the world. She is the first daughter of Melissa and Chris Rhodes and baby sister to their son CJ who was born 2½ years ago to the day. Melissa has been a Roselle Park resident for over 30 years and recalls when her family found out she was with child. She said, “We found out on my late mom’s 60th birthday that we were having a girl.”
In choosing Heidi’s name, Melissa recounted, “About five years ago, before my husband and I went on our second first date I had a dream I was playing with a little girl. When I asked the little girl what her name was, she looked up at me and said ‘Mommy don’t you know my name? It’s Heidi.’ And with that I woke up from the dream. When I told Chris about it, he agreed with me that if we ever had a daughter that would be her name. Her middle name is Louise, which was my husband’s maternal great grandmother’s name.”
The day before going in for a c-section with Dr. Robert Steer at Morristown Memorial Hospital, Melissa reached out to former mayor Joseph DeIorio and his husband, 5th Ward Councilman Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley, to see if they had heard about anyone being named the borough’s first born of 2016. They let her know about 1st Ward Councilman Eugene Meola and his Roselle Park Stork initiative. He got together with Councilman Ryan Kelly, who represents the 3rd Ward where the Rhodes family lives, and presented them with an ‘It’s A Girl’ stork after checking and confirming that Heidi was, indeed, Roselle Park’s first newborn of 2016. Melissa did relate that she hopes that no other residents have the same unfortunate incident that they had when someone stole their stork the night before the snowstorm last week. Even then, that did not take away from the joy of the newest member to their – and Roselle Park’s – family. It is especially poignant to Melissa. She stated, “My late mom, who was also a long time resident of Roselle Park, would have been over the moon.”
Now, Melissa is resting but getting back into the swing of things like walking the family dog and washing dishes. She jokes that she is still not medically ready for shoveling snow. She and Chris are enjoying their two little ones with CJ always wanting to give his little sister kisses and cuddle up next to her. Planning Heidi’s baptism later this spring once the weather is warmer, Melissa is grateful for the congratulations and the warm wishes from family, friends, and Roselle Park neighbors.
“It’s an honor that Heidi is the first born in Roselle Park [in] 2016,” Melissa said, “I think the program is a wonderful idea. I like seeing the town celebrate special events that bring us all together as one community.”