Staffer volunteers as troll for holiday event

It was a chilly Saturday morning, Dec. 11, and Cadence Smith and I rushed from Cup of Joe to the Community Main Street building in downtown Cedar Falls. There, we met up with Abby Colton, and the three of us changed into our costumes: Abby and Cadence as Olaf and Sven from Frozen, respectively, and myself as Branch from Trolls

Although I would like to note that this is not how I usually spend my Saturday mornings, the three of us had volunteered to greet kids outside Santa’s Workshop at the River Place Plaza after we made an impulsive decision to sign up through a Schoology post the previous week.

As soon as I stepped into my costume, I had some regrets. For starters, there was about six inches of padding between my body and the outside of the costume. Secondly, the only hole through which I was to see was the mouth of the troll, which was about an inch wide, so the people who provided me with the costume cut holes in the eyes of the troll. Unfortunately, there was a forgotten layer of mesh where these holes were, so my sight was not significantly improved. I also happened to be a bit of a third wheel with Cadence and Abby, figuring that I was from an entirely different movie.

Nevertheless, I persevered. Abby had to hold my hand to guide me up and down the steps of the plaza, but eventually I met my counterpart, Poppy. Our conversation was quite short, and went something like this:

“Can you see?” she asked.

“Not at all,” I replied.

“Me neither,” she said, then proceeded to walk into the Tea Cellar across the street. 

I wonder what the other customers thought when they saw a six-foot troll walk into the shop. After my brief conversation, I remained fairly stationary, waving in the direction of a variety of children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see when many of them hugged me, so I was taken aback by the kids who approached me. According to Abby and Cadence, Mr. and Mrs. Lins visited us during our first few minutes at the plaza, which likely explains why they stayed near me for such a long time—that, and the fact that they were worried I was going to run into things, what with my lack of vision.

After about an hour of waving, hugging and dancing, we took a break behind a nearby apartment building to briefly take off the heads of our costumes and talk with each other for a bit. We got a few questionable looks when we returned, so I’m sure the adults just assumed the worst of us. Another hour later, I was sweating from my shoulders to my knees, but I could barely feel my hands or feet. This was when I had a silent conversation with the mom of a child who had just gotten out of the slide in Santa’s Workshop.

“Who are you supposed to be?” she asked me. “A troll?” I tried to give her a thumbs-up, but she said, “No? You’re not?”

Thankfully, her child came to my rescue, saying, “Of course that’s a troll, Mom! It’s Branch!” 

I then began to nod my head and give the child a thumbs-up before the mother looked me up and down and walked away.

After our final hour of greetings, we returned to the Community Main Street building to take off our costumes and collect our things. There, Abby was apologizing for asking us to do this with her, but, although it wasn’t something I’d do again, it was certainly a fun experience.

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