GrinchFest Delights Kids With Spunky Acting, Crafts, Music

Sparkling paper trees and cottony snow made a snazzy backdrop for holiday photos at Children’s Library last Friday, but the photos weren’t with the guy in the red suit. Instead, kids and grinning adults got to meet a very different Christmas character—the GRINCH.

Our Grinch was so charming that most of the kids felt just fine about sitting next to him for a picture, or even shaking his hand. After all, the Grinch isn’t mean anymore–he’s a reformed villain who has a bigger-than-usual heart, thanks to the magic of Christmas in Whoville.

The joys of Grinchhood

The Grinch (played by accomplished performer Craig O’Neill) still had a bit of sass for the kids, bantering with those photo-takers who didn’t quite trust that his present-stealing ways were over. O’Neill described the rewards of playing the Grinch.  “There aren’t many times a year where you wake up smiling because you know what you’ve got in front of you that day is so unique and enjoyable and energized,” O’Neill said. “Then, despite a high level of despicability, you also have kids who hug you and hold your hand and surprise you. Like the four year old who politely posed for his picture then turned to me and with perfect diction said: ‘You know, you are a very good actor. I enjoyed it very much.'”

“I took a picture with the Grinch!” said Katelyn. “He was really cool and nice.”

GrinchFest 2018 was a smashing success, thanks to a lot of hard work by library staff, volunteers, and of course by the fabulous Grinch himself.

A lively staged reading of the book in the amphitheater featured the tall, green Grinch and several other cast members cavorting around the stage, to the amusement and fascination of a large audience full of children.

At the end of the show, a lucky door prize winner walked away with a shiny red copy of the classic book by Dr. Seuss.

Dessert decorating with teen volunteers

In other large rooms converted to holiday party spaces, kids decorated ice cream cones with frosting or ate giant marshmallows dipped in chocolate. Friendly teen volunteers from local schools spread holiday cheer as they assisted the little ones in their decorating projects.

Volunteer Andrew said he had chosen to help because of his previous positive experience at GrinchFest. “I did this last year and it was fun,” Andrew said. “I like seeing the happy kids.”

Another teen volunteer said he helped this year for similar reasons. “I love to work here, and it gives me service hours for school,” he said.

Dads spend quality time with kids

In the craft room, several dads held their small kids on their laps and gently showed them how to use scissors or tape as they enjoyed family time together. The antlers and masks created by kids sprouted up all over the library to add to the festivities. The atmosphere was remarkably calm for a children’s event, but energized with the quiet buzz of busy, curious activity.

Several happy kids gave their opinions on their GrinchFest experience.

Joshua said, “The best thing to do is eat!”

Eli said his favorite thing to do was read and look at books.

Musical duo brings holiday music to decked halls

Holiday songs from Rod Ragsdale and Carol Dabney included guitar, ukulele, harmonica, and lovely vocals. The tunes floated down a hall decked with large green wreaths, as kids and parents stopped to listen. The musicians were full of holiday spirit but had another reason to celebrate as well. “We’re newlyweds!” Carol said with a big smile.

Parent Josh Herrin is a repeat yearly visitor. “My son loves it here, and he loves the Grinch,” he explained.

The appeal of the Grinch was a major draw for many attendees. Jan Weiss brought her grandson to the big party. “We came because my son loves the Grinch!” she said.

Branch manager Rettina Hill estimated the number of attendees by the number of supplies used. “We made 1000 snack sets and 1000 craft preps, and based on how many we used, I think it was at least 850 in attendance.”

Many attendees wore their Grinch or Seuss-themed finery, including a number of girls with hair styled like Cindy Lou Who as well as entire families in grinchy green.

Remembering the spirit of Christmas

Thanks to all the volunteers, staff, performers, and patrons who came together to create this welcoming community event! GrinchFest made a merry holiday for lots of children while also highlighting the joy of reading. And like the Grinch story, the Fest taught the lesson that maybe, just maybe, Christmas isn’t found in a box or a bag, but in the way we share our time with others.

Happy New Year, everyone!