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The joy of multiples: Triplets and quads bring annual gathering to Grand Island

Updated: 07/13/08 10:43 AM

Tabitha, Alyssa and Jason Mikita, 5, parade through Grand Island as part of the annual weekend gathering of families with triplets or quadruplets. Another photo on the Picture Page, C8.

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They came in waves of three and four, some dressed as baseball players, others as American Indians and even a few daredevils wearing barrels that made them look like they were ready to plunge over Niagara Falls.

As families from across the globe paraded around the Buffalo Launch Club in Grand Island on Saturday, it was those who weren’t triplets or quadruplets who were the odd ones out.

More than 70 families desended on Western New York for the Triplet Connection’s annual convention this weekend. This year’s theme was “Multiples in the Mist,” and a picnic at the Launch Club gave families a chance to show just how creative costumes can be when there are three or four kids to wear them.

The event is an opportunity for children and parents to network with families in similar situations. People traveled from as far as England for the chance to mingle with other families with multiple same-age siblings.

“It’s a weekend for them to be normal,” Brynn McNicholas, one of the event’s organizers, said of triplet and quadruplet families. She said it was a break from gawkers and curious strangers who don’t hesitate to inquire about the rarity of multiples.

In all, 65 sets of triplets registered for this year’s convention along with five sets of quadruplets. Usually the convention gets around 100 families, but the rising cost of gas is thought to have kept some families at home, according to McNicholas.

“We always try to go somewhere where there’s an attraction,” said the 21-year-old quadruplet. The convention is held in different parts of the country every year, and many families plan to attend as their annual summer vacation. “We only see each other once a year, but we always pick up where we left off,” she said.

This weekend was a chance for her to duck the question she’s most tired of: What is it like to be a quadruplet?

“The first thing I always say is that I hate that question,” said McNicholas, who added that for her, being a quadruplet is as normal as having a brother or sister.

With the average age of the convention being 9 years old, and a minimum of 210 children attending, there were plenty of kid-friendly activities planned. But sessions ranging from how to finance college for triplets to how to find alone time gave parents something to do as well.

“Everything takes three times longer,” said Marlene Holliday of London, Ont., who is the mother of three girls turning 4 later this month.

The Hollidays, who dressed as their own tribe of American Indians for the parade, said that unlike other couples with multiple children, the parents of triplets don’t have the luxury of learning from one child to the next.

“For us, it’s like everything comes at once,” said Dan Robinson, who along with 6-year-old triplets, has a 9-year-old son. The Hollywood, Md., family dressed in Baltimore Orioles garb and were only a few short of fielding their own team.

The convention, which has been held annually since 1991, was founded by Janet Bleyl. She began the Triplet Connection Magazine after having triplets but no one to turn to for advice or help.

Local parents like Donna Cicero of Williamsville haven’t had to face that same strain while raising her 7-year-old boy triplets along with her 10-year-old daughter. She is part of an online community for Buffalo parents who exchange tips on how to raise multiple children.

“It’s easier if someone could tell you rather than figure it out yourself,” she said. About 20 families belong to the Yahoo! group, and the mothers meet each month in the Olive Garden on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. It’s a midpoint between families who live in the north and south towns.

“Triplet families are so pressed for time that we’re lucky to have more than a 75 percent turnout,” said Cicero.

“You go from man-to-man defense to zone,” Cicero said after having triplets.