Saturday, May 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Cheka, Wherever You Are

Francesca "Cheka" Alvarado's birthday is today. She has been missing almost a year.

Happy Birthday, Cheka, Wherever You Are

Today is the 23rd birthday of Franchesca "Cheka" Alvarado. She's not able to celebrate it with loved ones. She went missing on March 13th of last year, during a trip to Atlantic City with a male friend. (Here's the column I wrote about it.)

Franchesca's big, close family is spending the day in Atlantic City, where they will once again plaster the Boardwalk with posters asking for help to find Franchesca. And at sunset, they will set set 50 sky lanterns loose in the nighttime sky, in her honor. 

"Like in the movie Tangled, the King and the Queen lit lanterns for their missing princess," wrote Franchesca's sister, Mia, in an e-mail. "We, too, are missing our Princess, and are hoping and praying that Franchesca sees us and feels our love. We also pray that someone sees our efforts and determination in trying to find my baby sister, and will help us spread the word!"

Franchesca's story is scheduled to be featured on PhillyCam's "Unsolved Philadelphia," which spotlights unsolved police cases. The show airs Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7pm. Franchesca's family tells me the story will air this week though, as of yesterday, they'd not been told whether it wll be seen on Wednesay or saturdya. Best bet: Tune in both nights.

Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter