EAST COUNTY — Karen Ronney hopes a holiday tradition she started on Lakewood Ranch Main Street will continue even after she and her husband, Malcolm, leave MacAllisters Grill & Tavern behind in January.
Last year, Ronney adapted the nationwide The Elf on the Shelf program at the East County shopping strip. Because of its success, 27 merchants house elves for children to find this year.
“It’s just something fun for children to do over the holidays,” Ronney said.
Through Dec. 31, families are invited to comb Main Street shops for the elves, which are hidden throughout the stores and restaurants.
Each day, merchants move elves to different locations in the store.
Merchants name their own elves, such as Samantha, who lives at Arts A Blaze, and MacAllister’s elf, Harvey.
Participants track the elves they find on submission forms available at Arts A Blaze, MacAllisters and American Shore Trading Co. The form must contain the name of each elf found, along with a signature from the merchant that validates the elf was found.
Once all the elves are found and documented, children turn the forms into one of three locations for a chance to win one of the $500 gift cards for Main Street businesses.
The idea behind the Elves on the Shelves around Main Street is a global program Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell, created in 2005.
Aebersold wrote the story “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.”
The elves are said to be Santa’s informants who report which children are naughty and which are nice before Christmas. If the elf moves from its location, children the elf monitored that day were well behaved. If the elf stays put, he’s giving you one more chance before he reports your behavior to Santa.
“Elves on the Shelves gets people into the stores and it’s a free and fun event for the family; it’s a win-win-win,” Ronney said.
For the Ronneys, the family-friendly event will hopefully continue to bring attention to businesses patrons may have previously overlooked, as well as provide free entertainment— a rarity today, Karen Ronney said.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].