Jolly, Lunchroom Elf brings adventure to RBHS

Shenanigans ensue when Jolly the Elf makes his annual appearance in the Red Bay school cafeteria each year. His arrival is eagerly anticipated by students and faculty of all ages.

This year was the fifth for Jolly to entertain and surprise at Red Bay. He usually stays for about two weeks, delighting one and all during the time leading up to Christmas break.

Something new happens each day, and nobody knows what to expect next – nobody except volunteers from the cafeteria staff, who serve as Jolly’s assistants. They dedicate a lot of time and effort into coordinating his arrival and assisting him with adventures, not to mention cleaning up the chaos he causes. They dedicate time each day to making sure he has what he needs to put on a good show for his audiences.

This year’s adventure area included snowmen with cut-outs for fun photo opportunities.

“I like seeing Jolly the Elf,” said seventh-grader Chance Cook. “He can be in two places at once, and it’s funny when he makes a mess. I’m excited to see what’s new every day.”

“We love seeing all the fun and pranks Jolly gets up to,” agreed Red Bay school cafeteria manager Sherry Collins. “My niece is in kindergarten here, and she can’t wait to get to the cafeteria each day to see what mischief Jolly has created.

“Last year we had the Polar Express as part of the adventure, and that was a lot of fun. There’s a new incident every day – some kind of mess.”

Collins said she recently heard an older student say, “What’s Jolly done today?!” All agree he’s a busy little elf with no shortage of ideas.

She said his special helpers in the cafeteria include Angie Gilliland, Myra Coats, Hope Fuller, Heather Mills and Dee Hubbard.

Coats explained Jolly showed up for the first time while she was new to working in the Red Bay school cafeteria. She said she always enjoys his visits. “Everyone looks forward to it,” she added, “and there’s usually some kind of big finale. We never know what might happen. We all love taking pictures with Jolly.”

“When we see how excited everyone is for Jolly’s return and finding out what he’s gotten up to next, it’s really wonderful,” added Gilliland. “They just glow. They talk and laugh with excitement.”

Fuller said she loves seeing the look in the children’s eyes when they see what new adventures the little elf has been up to.

“That’s what Christmas is all about,” she said. “One little girl, maybe a kindergartener, came in one day and said, ‘It’s absolutely beautiful!’ They just can’t believe what all Jolly gets into overnight.

“I get a lot of comments from teachers and students alike,” Fuller added, “and everybody loves it. It’s something fun to look forward to each day.”

Collins praised her team for their hard work in bringing a little extra magic to the season.

“I’m very proud of my employees putting in the time and work to help Jolly put on a good show for our students,” she said. “They love our students, and I beam with pride at how much they care because I feel like we’ve got the best crew ever. We really are a family here. They are all just amazing.”

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