You probably see lots of Santa’s helpers this time of year, but have you ever seen an elf who is also a bear?
Meet Effie May Bell. She loves entertaining children with Mrs. Claus at the Taj Boston Hotel’s Teddy Bear Tea.
“I think the best thing you can do in your whole life is to make a meaningful connection with a child,” Effie said.
When Effie, also known as Libby Lit, ’20, is not bringing North Pole magic to young children, she hangs out with her fellow Bridgewater State University Bears.
Mrs. Claus also has a home on campus as Department of Theatre adjunct faculty member Mari Novotny-Jones.
Libby and Novotny-Jones work together seamlessly at the weekend teas. They glide around the room, posing for photos with eager children, teaching kids a new song and playing hide-and-seek. Libby dances and lets youngsters make holiday music on her ukulele.
Novotny-Jones, who has brought her Mrs. Claus to the hotel for more than two decades, savors every interaction with a child.
“It only exists for a moment,” she said. “That moment and all those moments put together carries me through the year.”
When the weekend teas grew so popular that she needed help to ensure every child has a special time, hotel management agreed to hire an elf. Novotny-Jones has been picking Bridgewater students as elves for about a decade.
Libby, who is from Milford and majoring in communication studies with a concentration in theater education, sees the job and her BSU education as excellent preparation for her career. She wants to produce children’s theater that is accessible to all, including kids with disabilities.
“I would have never gotten this chance anywhere else,” said Libby, who is in her second season as Effie.
Libby and Novotny-Jones meet throngs of children every season. But, some interactions stand out. Libby, who is Jewish, once met youngsters who share her religion.
“Those kids didn’t leave my side the whole time,” she said. “We played The Dreidel Song instead of a Christmas song. We talked about latkes. Effie May Bell is known as the elf who brought Hanukkah to the North Pole.”
Then, there was the time they comforted a child whose mother was dying.
“I don’t think there’s anything better in this world than having a deep impact on a child’s life,” Libby said. “And I feel like that’s what I do every weekend.” (Story by Brian Benson, University News & Video)