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When it comes time to throw a party for the Essex Elementary School community, Carrie Comerford will be at the forefront, dressed in pajamas with her fellow organizers for Essex Elementary School Family Night on Friday, Feb. 28. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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A bit rusty on your masked crusaders? Feminine superheroes not your specialty? Then meet Elastigirl, or alternatively Carrie Comerford of Ivoryton.
Elastigirl, the stretchy superhero also known as Mrs. Incredible, is a cartoon star in two animated Pixar movies. She also is an advertising image on the label of some Campbell’s soup. That’s where Carrie’s three sons, ages 7, 6, and 3, have seen Elastigirl and regularly tell their mother she looks very much like the elongating superhero.
“There’s a bit of resemblance,” Carrie admits.
The real similarity, though her children might not realize it, is not appearance, but how Carrie is able to stretch herself to fit so many things in her life. In addition to three small sons, she has a high-powered job as a part-time assignment editor at ESPN, as well as another part-time sales position. In addition, she is co-chair, along with Lauren Devin, of Essex Elementary School PTO’s upcoming Family Night on Friday, Feb. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Admission to the event, a fundraiser for the Essex Elementary School PTO, is $20—along with a used book—for the entire family. The evening includes a pizza party with pies made on site by Centerbrook Pizza as well as family bingo. There are prizes for children who win bingo games, and at the end of the evening, all the youngsters who have not won prizes also get one. If someone wins twice, the second time they can pick one of the used books. The rest of the books are used at a later PTO function.
Carrie says she has been buying the prizes since the day after Family Night last year.
“I buy and hoard them,” she says, noting it is not uncommon for her husband Joe to leave the market with a cartful of groceries only to find the trunk of the car already filled with prizes.
In addition to prizes for the children, there are things for adults to bid on as well, including a YMCA family membership, four tickets to Disney Land or Disney World, and gift cards to Toys Ahoy!
This year, the proceeds from the fundraiser will be matched dollar for dollar up to $4,500 by the Essex Elementary School Foundation. The goal is to raise $9,000, the cost to replace a 21-year-old swing set in the Essex Elementary School playground
Carrie already knows what she will be wearing on Family Night: pajamas, and she will not be the only one. All the elementary schoolers who attend family night will be wearing pajamas, but they won’t have to change before going. It is going to be wear-your-pajamas-to-school day. And Carrie hopes that many of the parents who come to Family Night will, like her, wear pajamas as well.
At ESPN, Carrie usually works Friday through Sunday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., but to get to the station’s Bristol headquarters, she needs to get up around 3:30 a.m. On a recent afternoon, however, she noted she had worked the last six days in a row. The weekend and early hours work out well, so she and her husband can divide child care responsibilities.
Carrie’s duties on the ESPN assignment desk involve the mechanics of getting a story on the air—setting up interviews, finding relevant film clips, making sure the camera crews are on site, and getting the proper credentials for those covering the event. Each assignment editor is responsible for a particular sport. Carrie’s area is NASCAR, which on a recent week meant focusing on the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16.
Her early hours sometimes leave her tired, but not for long.
“Sometimes I am exhausted when I get home on Saturday, but by Sunday I bounce back,” she says.
Still, she recalls when the family’s wish to go to a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on a Saturday night was just too much.
“Do I need to remind you what time I got up?” she asked her husband.
In addition to her ESPN job, Carrie works three hours a week at Saybrook Home. She started when she was on maternity leave from ESPN.
“I like work and my husband was afraid I would go stir crazy, so I looked online for a weekend job,” she recalls. “It was a chance to dress up and look fancy. I like being around nice stuff and the customers are great.”
Carrie did her undergraduate work at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then got a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University. She worked as local news producer in Traverse City, Michigan for five years before coming to ESPN.
She says the two questions she is asked most frequently about her job are whether she can get the questioner a job at ESPN and whether she can get someone tickets to an event.
On Family Night, Carrie will go right from her job to help set up for the event. And then she is due back at work at 5 o’clock the next morning. She admits her schedule at this time of year is a bit frantic.
“Come January and February when Family Night becomes a priority, things get very busy,” she says. “But it is only two months of completely crazy. I can do anything for two months.”
To donate to the Essex Elementary School Foundation online, visit www.essexesf.org/donate. Preregistation for Family Night, open to all Essex Elementary School families, is at the school office, 108 Main Street, Centerbrook.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!