Building 21 at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds was filled Friday night with brightly colored balloons, a costumed bunny rabbit, 450 girls and numerous posters of massive cookies for the fourth annual Girl Scout Cookie Kick-Off.
Girls from 35 troops, along with their parents and leaders, filed in Friday evening for two hours of preparations - including learning about and sampling a new cookie flavor: Lemonade. Last year, girl scouts in Douglas County sold about 80,000 boxes of cookies. They expect to sell about the same this year.
Douglas County cookie coordinator Jeannie McClure said the goal of the kick-off was both to train the girls and also to give them an opportunity to have fun with other area girl scouts.
"Each year they do a theme. This year it's 'Join the Fun,'" she said.
Along with the theme is a mascot - a rabbit - which was incorporated into the activities the girls took part in. The girls played hopscotch, made rabbit masks and got hugs from the costumed bunny.
Emily Alt, 8, came to the kick-off with her troop from Prairie Park School. She's planning to sell 500 boxes during this year's sale, she said.
"I like cookie sales because we can do fun things with our troops," Emily said.
All of the money raised stays with the local council and the individual troops, which allows the girls to plan activities. Emily's troop took a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kan., with its cookie money.
Fellow troop member Hailey Slaugh, 9, said her favorite part was being able to buy cookies for herself when the sale is done. Her favorite kind? Thin Mints, the most popular, which account for about 25 percent of cookie sales.
Mary Dodd, a leader of two Lawrence troops, said she encourages her girls to have fun with the cookie sales.
"I'm not too concerned with the money," she said.
Dodd tells her girls to be sure to travel with an adult, never go at night and, of course, to have a good time.
And, in a sign of the times, all of this year's Girl Scout cookies are trans fat-free, McClure said.