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"Wild Bill" is dubbed the 'ultimate wedding crasher'

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2012

Brynn Johnson, formerly of Compton, and her fiancé, Paul Honeycutt, exchange vows at Veterans Park, Saturday, Oct. 6. (Reporter photo by Jennifer Sommer)

MENDOTA – “Wild Bill” Hickok is not on the average bride’s guest list. However, he was part of the backdrop at Brynn Johnson and Paul Honeycutt’s wedding, Oct. 6. Although they dubbed him the “ultimate wedding crasher,” his presence added to the historical theme of their wedding.

“Tradition and heritage are important to me. I wanted it to mean something to me,” said Johnson about choosing Veterans Park as the setting for their October wedding ceremony.

Brynn Johnson currently lives in Palos Hills, but her Mendota roots reach far back. She grew up in Compton, the daughter of Joel and Jean Johnson. She is a 2002 Mendota High School graduate and former assistant director at the Mendota Civic Center.

“Growing up, my parents use to take us [Johnson and her siblings] to the library every Saturday. I would sit for hours reading books,” Johnson recalled. It was outside that library, what is now the Hume-Carnegie Museum, Johnson chose as the place she wanted to be married.

No longer a library, the museum still holds significance to Johnson. “My dad donated some family heirlooms that belonged to my grandmother [Marie (Foulk) Johnson] to the museum,” she said.

She recalls Mendota as a welcoming town with hometown attitudes from residents and business owners. She remembers all the school activities, music and sports fondly. And, of course, her memories include the annual Sweet Corn Festival.

It is these memories etched in her mind that make Mendota special to her–a place important enough to return to for her wedding.

Even Johnson’s attendants reflected the lifelong impact of growing up in Mendota with friendships that have withstood time. Her sister, Jessie Johnson was her Maid of Honor. Childhood friends, Sara Smith and Katie O’Neil, formerly of Mendota, Allison Kofoid, formerly of Compton, and her cousin Courtney Lijewski of Peru were her bridesmaids.

Paul Honeycutt, Johnson’s fiancé, grew up in Whiting, Ind. Although Mendota is not his hometown, he was keen on the suggestion of the Veterans Park venue. “He loves it. He wants it to be beautiful and memorable, too,” said Johnson.

The park was filled with crisp fall leaves, potted mums and 150 of Brynn and Paul’s closest family and friends. Passers-by in cars slowed down to see what was going on. And the weather, although chilly, was sunny and invigorating–a perfect fall day.

“This is the only wedding at Veterans Park that I am aware of,” said Steve Dancey, Mendota Museum and Historical Society historian and storyteller.

Although, Dancey said, there have been several in the museum’s Country Chapel since it opened in 2004.

Lake Mendota has also been the backdrop for a few small weddings, but the Veterans Park scene will always be an original and special setting for Brynn and Paul.

Now, as Mr. and Mrs. Paul Honeycutt, the couple will begin to make their own memories and history of their life together. As for “Wild Bill,” he is sure to forever remind them of not only their wedding day, but Mendota as well.

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