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  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Tyler Wohlend isn't sure what to make of the big white animal as Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer donned an Easter Bunny outfit as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. It wasn't as easy as she thought. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Playing the part of an Easter bunny isn't easy. The Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer donned an Easter Bunny outfit as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    A few youngsters were overwhelmed with tears as Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer donned an Easter Bunny outfit as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. It wasn't as easy as she thought. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer was relieved to get out of the suit after playing the Easter Bunny as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. It wasn't as easy as she thought. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Kevin Vietro runs to the bunny for one last hug as Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer donned an Easter Bunny outfit as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. It wasn't as easy as she thought. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
  • STAFF PHOTO BY BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Heat became a problem inside the outfit as Telegraph correspondent Stacy Milbouer donned an Easter Bunny costume as a favor to a friend Thursday, April 5, 2012, during an egg hunt at the Stonewood Preschool in Hudson. It wasn't as easy as she thought. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video.
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Playing the Easter Bunny no easy task

HUDSON – It was the chance of a life time – channeling my inner Harvey. When the owner of the Stonewood School in Hudson called this week in a last-minute search for someone willing to be the Easter Bunny for the babies and toddlers at her daycare center, it was a no brainer, mostly because I had yet to consume enough morning caffeine to mouth the word “no” and because no one likes a spring ritual challenge more than I do.

“A couple of things Stacy,” said Patty Langlais, owner of the school. “You can’t say ‘Oy vey’ and in fact, Easter Bunnies don’t talk – at all.”

I had a few minutes to contemplate my role and to get into character. I recognized instantly that this might be a problem. I’m Jewish. I don’t really get the whole Easter Bunny thing. We don’t look for eggs. At the end of the Passover Seder, children search for an afikoman, a half a matzo which someone’s grandfather usually hides in the buffet during the dinner. But I had a live-in expert: my husband, a former altar boy who had once played the big man himself – yes Santa – and he didn’t even need a fake beard.

As I was painting on elongated lashes and over painting my cheeks, it occurred to me that I didn’t know what or who the Easter Bunny is. Of course it didn’t occur to me that I would be wearing a giant bunny head and makeup would be superfluous.

“Tom, is the Easter Bunny a male or female – and is it a child or an adult, and why doesn’t it talk?”

“Let’s see,” my husband said. “You’re talking about a giant rabbit who lays chicken eggs. Do you really think any of this matters?”

Point taken. But I’ve done my share of community theater. Motivation is crucial to me. Perhaps, in costume, I could figure it out.

When I arrived at the school, I noticed that bright blue, pink, green and orange eggs were already spread on the front lawn. And I could hear the excited giggles of anticipatory toddlers within the school walls.

I couldn’t blow this. Adorable children were counting on me to deliver the goodies and the goods. I stealthily walked in the front door, out of the children’s sight, and there, lying on an overstuffed chair was my costume.

It was a chilly day, so I had worn a white turtle neck top, jeans and sneakers to the gig. What I didn’t count on was what amounted to wearing a jump suit made out of material that resembled a white fluffy bathroom rug.

It was cute. I’ll admit. There were built in bunny hands and even white booties that covered my New Balances. The head was a whole other story. It was huge and also made out of the fluffy rug stuff. As I was about to put it on, I realized that I was going to become a member of the inner sanctum – all those amusement-park characters that had come before me – Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob and Elmo – who knew the secrets of breathing, hearing and seeing while encased in a humongous helmet of fake fur. Without revealing the tricks of the trade I’ll have one word for you: mesh.

Langlais came up stairs to check me out.

“What am I supposed to do?” I asked. “Does the Easter Bunny find the eggs or lay them? Do I help the kids hunt or do I hop and hug?”

I was frantic. Langlais portrayed EB many a time herself, once at a nursing home, where the residents hugged and kissed her. “It didn’t end that well,” she told me. “The next day I found out I had a contagious form of pneumonia and I had to call and tell the director that everyone had been exposed.”

OK, this did not have the desired, confidence-building effect I was shooting for. She told me I was to point out eggs, pose with kids for photos, and hug them if they wanted to.

“But I’ll tell you now. Half of the kids will love you and half will be terrified. That’s just how it works. It’s like the Santa Claus thing.”

In the house, all was good. I posed in the mirror. But when I heard my cue – the shriek of babies running across the front lawn, and walked out the back door in order to make my hopping entrance onto the front lawn, I knew why all those fake Buzz Lightyears make the big bucks at Disney.

This wasn’t as simple as one might think. First, my furry feet were slippery, and hopping wasn’t all that easy. Second, despite the chilly wind, I was having the mother of all hot flashes, sparked by my white bunny fur shroud. Third, while hopping my giant bunny head moved around as did the mesh eye holes, and I realized that I had absolutely no depth perception, which wasn’t at all helped by the sweat running into my eyes.

This point was reiterated when after only my second hop, I heard the sickening crunch of a crushed plastic Easter egg. Then as I was about to shout “Oh my!” (that wasn’t really the second word I was about to shout) I realized that I remembered the Easter Bunny doesn’t talk. Then the wee ones descended.

Just as I was warned, a few of what, through my mesh, looked like the most adorable children ever, stopped in their tracks and didn’t just cry, they wailed.

Langlais and co-teacher, Elaine Gentile, were real pros. They knew just how to comfort and distract the frightened children to the pretty eggs on the ground. And then came the children who liked me – or at least the Easter Bunny version of me.

Through the sweaty mesh I could see chubby little hands offering up their plastic eggs in a gesture of pure love. I wanted to tell them how adorable they were and ask them for a hug, but remembered the gag order. This called for real acting.

I crossed my furry arms in a hug motion, and my little fans ran into my open arms. I thought I’d give a little hop or two, but when I heard another plastic egg crunch, I decided it was best to sit down, lest I hurt one of my adoring fans.

Besides, I thought a sitting bunny might be a lot less scary than a giant, standing rabbit, and I might be able to win over the frightened toddlers who were casting worried glances.

While Gentile admonished, “DON’T GET GRASS STAINS ON YOUR FUR BUNNY,” I found myself with no fewer than four pink-cheeked babies sitting on my lap.

I couldn’t see much but I could tell their mommies and aunties were snapping photos. And here’s something I learned: Even though you are wearing a giant furry animal helmet that totally obscures your face, when someone shouts, “smile” you still smile.

The next few minutes were filled with hugs, kisses and an impressive amount of bunny waving.

I finally heard the teachers tell their students to say goodbye to the Easter Bunny. It was time to hop away. Easier said than done. I was still wary of hopping and frankly I was hot and disoriented. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to make a convincing exit. But I managed a pretty heartfelt hop off, stopping to look over my shoulder and offer a big bunny wave. But by that time, my beloved throng was so interested in the egg-filled baskets and the treasures within, that they barely noticed me disappearing into the horizon.

When I was out of sight of the children, I whipped off my bunny head and wiped the sweat out of my eyes. I looked up to the sky and just because I could, shouted out a joyful – “Oy vey!”

Stacy Milbouer is a freelance writer. She can be reached at stacym34@gmail.com.