A large crowd of Hannibalians showed enthusiastic support for Molly McKinley when she was crowned “Princess Molly” on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and surprised with a fireworks display.

A large crowd of Hannibalians showed enthusiastic support for Molly McKinley when she was crowned “Princess Molly” on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and surprised with a fireworks display.

Molly, 11, of Hannibal, is battling a life-threatening form of ataxia and had expressed a wish to go to Disney World.

When her physical condition prevented this, the Make-A-Wish Missouri organization decided to instead bring Disney World to her.

Her party and fireworks were kept secret by her mom, Dawn Bricker, and Molly did not know about the party until Wednesday, when she arrived at the Mark Twain Brewing Co. at 422 N. Main St., and was escorted inside the building by the Hannibal Fire Department.

Despite the weather - on one of the coldest days Hannibal has experienced this season - people of all ages gathered outside the brewery, many wearing crowns and displaying signs greeting Princess Molly.

Once inside the building, Molly was taken to the second floor, where she later watched a fireworks display set off on Lover’s Leap.

She received official greetings from Mayor Roy Hark, who named her "Princess Molly of the Kingdom of Hannibal." He also presented her a key to the City of Hannibal, and said “We all love you.”

Many people greeted Princess Molly, including a former teacher, Melinda Greenwald of Veterans Elementary School.

Molly responded by telling them, ”I am Princess Molly.”

Her grandpa, Roger Pafford, was among a large group of family members supporting Princess Molly.

Molly was not the only princess attending her party. She was posing for pictures with queens and princesses from the area.

They included Miss Hannibal (Scarlett McMullen), Miss New London (Kennady Shuck), Miss Marion County (Destiny Reed), Princess Edie White, and Pre-Junior Miss Marion County representatives (Madison Cardwell and Abigail Hudson).

“This is fabulous,” said Molly’s mother, Dawn, as the party continued. She explained that four years ago Molly was diagnosed with ataxia, which destroys the nerves in the body.

“She didn’t have a clue” that the “Princess” party and fireworks were planned, Dawn said.

When she was being escorted by the firefighters, Molly asked, “what are these people doing here?”

Plans for the party and fireworks began in November, Dawn said. “I have been in touch with Make-A-Wish, and in November they suggested having it here (in Hannibal),”

She thanked everyone who came to honor Princess Molly.

For more pictures, see Seen on Scene photo gallery on hannibal.net.