With this post and $140 to $280, you can bring in huge crowds for costume character extravaganzas! Simply rent a costume character, put on a storytime, and smile for the camera!
- Costume character rental
- $140 for one character, such as Pete the Cat, Maisy, Clifford or $280 for a pair, such as Elephant & Piggie or Frog & Toad
- Books for storytime
- Music & rhymes for storytime
- Minimum four staff people/volunteers
- Printouts of activities from the character’s website for craft tables (optional)
Program set up: You will need at least four people working your event, one to present storytime, one to BE the character, one to be the character’s handler, and one to control the crowd. More staff is always better because you can expect a BIG crowd.
We set up the auditorium with a line (usually made of masking tape) across the front of the room so that the storyteller and costume character(s) have plenty of room to move. Families sit mostly on the floor behind this line, with a few chairs set up along the edges of the room for those who don’t want to get down on the floor.
For the storytime, we like to read books about the character or on topics that the character would enjoy. After each book (about three total), we stand up for a rhyme, song, or dance. For the very last dance/song/activity, the character will make an appearance. The character will be “on stage” for five to ten minutes to dance along with the crowd, wave, be silly, etc. and then will retreat from the room. At this time the crowd is invited out to the children’s department to line up for a photo opportunity/personal visit with the character.
We prepare the photo area ahead of time with a backdrop, stanchions, and another masking tape line so that the crowd assembles in a nice, orderly line. While the crowd is leaving the auditorium to line up, the character is in the back room, taking a break to catch their breath and take a drink of water.
Once everyone is lined up, the character and handler can make their way to the photo area. At this time the storyteller and crowd control person from storytime will help families take photos and ensure that the line moves along relatively quickly. You can expect this part of the program to take 30-45 minutes and I promise you, the person in that character suit is VERY hot and, while having fun, is looking forward to the end of the line. It is a good idea to work out a signal between the character/handler before the event so that the character can indicate if they need to take a five minute break in the middle of the line. Since visibility from inside a large costume character is limited, it is also the handler’s job to let the character know where children are and what they want “little one needs a hug”, “high five on your left”, etc. It is also nice for the handler to give periodic check-ins of how long the line is “just about 10 families left”, etc.
Besides the need to plan ahead to rent a character (I’m terrible at planning ahead) and trying to schedule several staff people to be in the same place at the same time, costume character events are super-duper-easy to put together and a whole lot of fun.