Help save the elves!

Colton Thompson, 3, enjoys the Elf Workshop Pop-Up with mom Nina, dad Graham, brother Connor, 1, and dogs Cooper and Sadie. The family lives on Lebanon Avenue and was out for a stroll when they discovered the pop-up.

Can you spot the hidden elves? How about the scene from The Polar Express

There’s plenty of ways to have a jolly good time in Mt. Lebanon this season, while supporting local businesses and still maintaining social distance (Safety first!) 

For this year, members of the Mt. Lebanon Partnership turned a vacant storefront in Uptown into a magical workshop where Santa’s elves are busy building toys for all the good little girls and boys. Now, you can help, too. 

Your mission is two-fold: Find all of the hidden movie scenes in the workshop, at 651 Washington Road (the former Play Town Square), for bragging rights among friends and family. And if you’re a youngster aged 10 or younger, you’re tasked with finding all of the elves who lost their way during a recent storm. Fifty paper and toy elves are scattered in businesses in Uptown and on Beverly Road, with an additional 15 hiding inside the elves’ workshop. Snap a photo of all of the elves you find—quickly, this is a contest where time matters—and send them to emilliron@mtlebanon.org with the subject “Elf Search + Rescue Submission” to enter. 

Creating magic amongst the chaos 

It’s no secret that pretty much everything is different this year—global pandemic, and all. The Mt. Lebanon Partnership had to find new ways to keep spirits high and businesses going. “We strategized what we could do to bring a little cheer, as well as get people up to Main Street so they could patronize our businesses,” said Chris Reidenbaugh, who deems himself “the CEO of Holiday Cheer.”

Reidenbaugh’s initial plan was to create a holiday tree lot at Clearview Common, but logistically that wasn’t doable. So Partnership members pivoted and created the Elf Workshop Pop-Up Display. Families can stop by a local business for a coffee or cookie and then—safely, with social distancing and masking in mind—head to the display for loads of holiday cheer and family fun. (It’s best viewed from 4:30 to 11 p.m.!)

Their idea was simple. “Our goal is always to bring people to Uptown, to support our business community,” said Harold Behar, who did the graphic design work for the display. “We are also community-oriented, so it’s about bringing some joy.” 

Coming together 

Community members came together to donate lots of toys, boxes and elves that could be used for the display/Search + Rescue. “A lot of sweat went into this,” said Michele Larson-Reidenbaugh, “resident elf” for the project. 

Tim Steinouer, a local artist who is also involved in the Vibrant Uptown project, designed the space to create a sequence of scenes—from the elves wrapping presents to the small tree lot in the back. Behar was in charge of designing the signage and the Reidenbaughs brought the cheer and hustle. 

While there’s no prize for finding all 12 movies represented in the workshop, kiddos younger than 10 who grab a picture of the most elves found in businesses on Washington and Beverly roads in the quickest time will get prizes. Families seem to be loving their mission, thus far. 

“It’s been really joyful to see families walking around,” said Behar, who spearheaded the Elf Search + Rescue Mission. “It’s really about seeing joy on the kids’ faces.” 

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