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The Time Has Come in Eighty Eight

August 9, 1988

EIGHTY EIGHT, Ky. (AP) _ This tiny town’s number came up Monday - 8-8-88 - and visitors crowded in from around the country, calls came in from around the world and the post office was besieged with thousands and thousands of letters.

″You’ve got to think of your eight lingo on a day like today,″ said Mike Carroll of nearby Bowling Green, whose favorite number is eight. ″I bought an eight-pack of beer, and I’m having a great time, g-r-e-i-g-h-t.″

Visitors to the southwestern Kentucky town 8.8 miles southeast of Glasgow could buy sandwiches or an RC Cola-moon pie combination for 88 cents at the 88 Market under a banner that read ″Happy Birthday Eighty Eight, Ky.″

″It’s crazy,″ said the market’s owner, Rosemary McPherson. ″It’s just unbelievable. The world’s gone crazy.″

Capping the celebration was the 8:08 p.m. wedding of Tom Accardo and Deborah Muhlbeier of Casper, Wyo., on the eighth step of the Refuge Church of Christ.

About 500 well-wishers, most of them residents or tourists, cheered when the couple said ″I do″ and then climbed into a hot air balloon tethered across the street from the church and became airborne for the toss of the bouquet of eight white roses.

″8-8 of 88 will be absolutely branded in my mind,″ said Accardo, 29. ″The people here have been fantastic.″

″Our marriage is magical. It’s just the icing on the cake and I’m telling you it’s thick icing,″ said Mrs. Accardo, 34. ″The biggest part of it is the people of Eighty Eight. The town has been incredible. You walk into town and you’re part of the family.″

Residents gave the couple a wedding cake with an ″88″ perched on top and a reception for about 600.

Ms. McPherson said she went to bed in the wee hours after Sunday’s preliminary celebration and got about two hours’ sleep before the telephone started ringing. Calls came in from more than 150 radio stations across the country, as well as stations in London and Australia, wanting interviews.

″I guess every state has contacted us at this time,″ she said.

She said she was happy and excited, ″but I’m exhausted. I enjoyed my little store the way it was.″

She made change for R.A. Edwards of Glasgow, who made out a check to the 88 Market for $8.88 for a T-shirt, which was actually $6.29.

Ms. McPherson’s business in Eighty Eight caps and T-shirts boomed Monday, as did the traffic at a mobile temporary post office set up across the highway.

Fred Van Fleet, the U.S. Postal Service’s area manager, said the post office had handled 25,000 pieces of mail Monday for people wanting the EIGHTY- EIGHT 8-8-88 cancellation.

″We’ve had people come in here from all over the country,″ he said. ″It’s really amazing the number of people that have been here.″

Donnie Sue Bacon, Eighty Eight postmistress, said on an average day the town handles 100 pieces of mail.

″I’ve been here 31 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,″ she said. ″It’s really something.″

ABC’s ″Good Morning, America″ broadcast a segment of Monday’s show from this small farming community of 150 residents. They interviewed eight people.

Carroll questioned the reasoning for setting the parade, with 88-year-old Eighty Eight resident Elsie Billingsley leading in a red sports car, on Sunday.

″How could they possibly do that?″

Legend has it that Eighty Eight was named by Dabnie Nunnally, a postmaster in the 1860s, who took his inspiration from the 88 cents he found in his pocket.

Visitors Ray and Loraine Heist of Crescent Springs, who marked their 49th wedding anniversary Monday, said they heard about the town’s celebration and decided to visit for the day.

″I think it’s great. People are getting a big kick out of this,″ Mrs. Heist said.

Susan Delight Voignier of Lexington, who wore a T-shirt with the front of her birth certificate printed on the front and the reverse side printed on the back, was born at 8 a.m. on Aug. 8, 1947, in New Albany, Ind.

″I’ve been waiting a lot of years for this year. I’m supposed to be doing other things today, but ... I came down here because it’s magical,″ she said.

Ms. Voignier sent one piece of mail, a postcard to her mother in Hamburg, Ind., that said: ″Thank you for the gift of life.″

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