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Part of the fun for all is interacting with the elves at the Magical Elf House. Shown here in 2018, house tour elf Mark Minotti tries to help kids figure out the password to enter the Magical Elf House. This year the house is popping up in Branford Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. (File photo by Susan Lambert/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Cinnamon the Elf, a close personal friend of volunteer Michele Denye, greeted guests with jokes and one-liners at the Magical Elf House last year. File Photo Susan Lambert/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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All of the elves are talking about it: The Magical Elf House, which popped up in Guilford last year, is set to appear in Branford for two days -- Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, December 15 -- before it disappears for another year.
Once again, Elf Mother Jill Dechello and her three very creative Christmas Fairies, Judi Granucci, Jennifer Napolitano, and Ramona Eldridge, are putting together an Elf House that would make the Grinch himself smile. In fact, this year, the green guy who hates Christmas will be showing up for the first time, to see for himself, says Dechello.
Set up in a seaside home in Branford (the location isn't revealed until the day of the event), the Magical Elf House will deliver room after room of whimsical holiday surprises during 30-minute elf-guided tours. In addition to some interactive experiences and great photo opps amidst rooms filled to the rafters with one-of-a-kind holiday fun and design, much of the joy comes from interacting with the elves themselves, said Dechello.
"The reason we had to establish 30-minute tours is because last year, the kids didn't want to leave!" she said.
In addition to some new twists such as encountering the living, breathing (and still quite grounchy) life-sized Grinch, guests can dance it up with some Sugar Plum Fairies (including the one that needs a little help keeping up), hear the beautiful voice of the singing Christmas princess, and check out a table loaded with the elves' next meal (featuring the major food groups – sugar, candy and sweet treats) among many other vingettes. After rising from a nap in a room where his holiday dreams are magically projected on the ceiling, Santa himself will appear at the Magical Elf House, too, said Dechello.
The Magical Elf House is organized by Dechello, who volunteers her time to bring together the talents of businesses and organizations to contribute their goods, services and skills to the project as an event of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
Dechello, who is also president and owner of Winc Promotions in North Haven, has many, many businesses to thank for signing on to support the house; including many based in North Haven, together with others from the shoreline area. She said much of the magic to be found in the Elf House is due to the incredibly creative minds of Granucci, Napolitano, and Eldridge, who own and operate Design House Interiors of Wallingford. The three also designed the fabulous Magical Elf House in Guilford last year.
"I just have to thank my three Christmas Fairies for doing this, because it's a lot of work!" said Dechello. "For them to step up again and take it on is just huge. They go in weeks ahead and just deck out room by room by room. I don't know how they do it."
She also thanks the Branford home owner (name withheld so as not to reveal the location) for getting into the spirit and sharing the venue with what's anticipated to be hundreds of eager guests on Dec. 14 and 15.
"For someone to open their home to 40 to 50 people per hour, for seven hours a day, over two days, is incredible," says Dechello, who dons her special elf costume, complete with green hair, and welcomes everyone at the door for every tour.
Tickets are available now; at https://www.shorelinechamberct.com under events ($20 adults, $5 kids; 2 and under free), where guests can also pick their date and available time slot to visit (first come, first served). Tours, 30 minutes each, will be taking place between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on both days.
All proceeds from ticket sales benefit two very worthy local causes, the SCC Scholarship Fund (serving Branford, North Branford and Guilford) and non-profit, all-volunteer Stony Creek Museum. More information, photos from last year, and links to purchase tickets can be found @TheMagicalElfHouse on Facebook. That's where Dechello also shares news of the generous support from local businesses involved with program, from the musical Minottie elves of The Music Center of North Haven LLC to JCakes of North Branford, which is once again supplying delicious cookies for the elves and their guests.
Last year, the Magical Elf House drew not only families with kids in tow, but several womens' groups who came out to enjoy as well as couples sharing in the holiday spirit.
"I think it makes you smile, especially around the holidays, when everyone's running around and stressed. It helps you see it through the eyes of a child," said Dechello, who came up with the idea based on stories her mom would tell her as a child.
In these days leading up to the doors opening, Dechello still has a few items on her wish list she'd love to have filled by some talented volunteers with a heart of gold, including an ice sculptor, a pair of male Hip Hop/Wooden Soldier dancers, and more assistance from groups which could help to provide shuttle service to and from the venue. Dechello can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
"For me, the Magical Elf House is a time when people show kindness," Dechello said. "We do it to really reinforce kindness. It's a magical time."