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Sunday, March 21, 1999


Once upon a time, there were seven stranded dwarfs ... 

But in a happy ending worthy of Mother Goose, the tiny troupe of Ukrainian circus performers who stole readers' hearts finally flew off into the sunset yesterday evening. 

After six months of worries and uncertainty, Mississauga businessman Victor Deschenes saved the day with seven plane tickets to Kiev, after hearing the plight of the little people on CFRB radio. 

He also provided wedding gowns -- actually, First Communion dresses -- for the troupe's two blushing brides-to-be. 

"He's a fantastic person," said Liliana Perun, who, along with husband Oleh, has championed the cause of the deserted dwarfs. 

Ivan Chopovsky, 20, Leonid Ovsyannikov, 48, Ivan Chubatko, 32, Lena Ivanytcka, 26, Luda Nikitchenko, 29, Mykhailo Gadiajcky, 55 and Serge Gadiajcky, 35, arrived on Nov. 20, 1997 and worked for the National Circus School of Canada for one year. But when their visas expired, the group's sponsor failed to send them back to the Ukraine. 

The Peruns have been helping ever since. With tears in his eyes, Oleh spoke fondly of the petite posse as they checked their comparatively big baggage for the 11-hour flight. "They're our kids," Oleh said of the petite posse, adding it is hard to see them go. 

Speaking through Liliana, Gadiajcky said he's excited to see his family. Nikitchenko, whose fiance awaits her in Minsk, looks forward to marital bliss and authentic borscht -- in no particular order. 

But the thought of leaving the Peruns, tempered the troupe's enthusiasm. Wiping a tear from her eye, Liliana translated. 

"They're thrilled but at the same time, it is hard to leave because they met such nice people," she said. And they all lived happily ever after. The end. 

photo from Sun files Five of the seven dwarfs who left for Kiev yesterday. 

Copyright 1999, The Edmonton Sun Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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