MODESTO — Dan Fender discreetly wiped tears from his eyes just after he told his daughter she looked beautiful and just before he walked her down the aisle. Jamie Fender married Jeremy Wright in an intimate ceremony that began precisely at 12:12 p.m. on 12/12/12.
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right," Wright said, explaining the couple's choice of date and time. "It's our style; it's very much us."
Noelle Matthews, who conducted the ceremony at Janet's Flowers Wedding Chapel in downtown Modesto, made note of the date in the service.
"This day, 12/12/12, doesn't come along every day in fact, only once in our lifetime," she said.
"We wanted something special and we got it," said Jamie Wright after the service. "We're super excited."
Many couples across the country decided it was a special day, too, and tied the knot, while other folks celebrated birthdays, gave birth through induced labor, took advantage of $12 business specials or simply enjoyed the triple date.
And in New York's Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and other top entertainers shared a stage for a "12-12-12" concert to benefit the victims of superstorm Sandy.
The month, day and year won't share the same number again for 89 years, until Jan. 1, 2101.
Canadian Vicki MacKinnon, author of "Please Take a Number: Numerology for Real Life and Everyday Success," said Wednesday's date represented a merging of masculine and feminine energies, good news for couples getting married.
In Las Vegas, couples swamped wedding chapels at 12 to 15 times their normal numbers. Couples came from England, Brazil, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Sweden to marry at Chapel of the Flowers and similar sites.
"People like being part of something larger," said Aimee Stephens, spokeswoman for Chapel of the Flowers. And, she added, the brides said the day "would make it easier for their husbands to remember."
Reserve the date
For months, Modestan Alta Robbins has had a magnet on her refrigerator that reads "12/12/12 aka Nancy Lee birthday." It was a reminder to reserve Wednesday to celebrate the 85th birthday of her friend, Nancy "Boots" Lee.
"This darling magnet has been on my refrigerator for practically a year," Robbins said. "It's very memorable; I think it's great. She's very community-minded and a nice lady."
Lee, a Modesto native who attended John Muir Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High and Modesto High School, said the only reason she agreed to a birthday party "was for 12/12/12. I told everyone no gifts, no speeches. I don't want it like a funeral service. They can do that later."
Instead, more than 200 people showed up to an open house that began at noon at her church, Centenary United Methodist.
Lee was born at St. Mary's Hospital in downtown Modesto, which later became the now-closed Kindred Hospital. Her father, Harry Ivy, owned a service station at Ninth and I streets where a Taco Bell now stands.
"He died at age 42 in 1937 when I had just turned 10," Lee said. "My mother was his bookkeeper and wanted to take over the business, but because she was a woman, they (Associated Oil) wouldn't let her have it."
Lee has three children and five grandchildren. Her husband, Allan Lee of Sonora, died 12 years ago. The longtime kindergarten teacher retired in 1984, remaining active in church and community events.
"I'm glad I stayed in Modesto because I've reconnected with so many people who I knew when I was growing up," she said. "After my husband died, this has been important to me."
The New York Times contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2012.
IT'S A SPECIAL DAY
Other local 12/12/12 events Wednesday included:
Modestans Christina Lee and Justin Zertuche were married Wednesday. They chose the chapel at the University of the Pacific, Lee's alma mater, as their wedding venue. "They thought the date sounded cool," said friend and fellow Modestan Devin Beggs, who played the piano for their wedding.
Sydney Ann (Haidlen) Arnett's family held a surprise 60th birthday party for her at the Oakdale Rodeo clubhouse Wednesday evening.
Niece Gretchen Haidlen Arbini had been scheduled to deliver her first child by Caesarean section. But Arbini's daughter, Addelyn Carmella, surprised everyone by arriving Nov. 30. Two-week-old Addy is doing well, reported her grandmother, Julia Haidlen.
Celebrating their 12th birthdays on Wednesday were Akshay Chowdhary and Ciarra Augustine of Modesto and Liliana Langley of Turlock. Chowdhary's sixth-grade teacher, Kristen Viray of Mary Lou Dieterich School, said her student was born at 12:12 p.m. 12 years ago, and that their classroom number is F12.
Al Dubuc, owner of Oz Consulting and Training in Oakdale, retired Wednesday. "A few months ago, I chose this day because of its great memorable symmetry," he said. "Then I could also joke that as I get more forgetful, this date is easy for me (and others) to remember."