The elves’ return took more than magic | Editorial

The column, letter and cartoon in this week's edition of The Beachcomber were all created prior to the latest development in the Vashon elves’ headline-grabbing situation — news that they’ll soon return, as if by magic, to the four-corner intersection in the heart of town.

But of course, it isn’t magic that is bringing the elves back. It’s a combination of embarrassment (the King County Sheriff’s Office looked terribly Grinch- or Scrooge-like — take your pick — as a result of their decision to shut them down), media scrutiny (from conservative talk show host John Carlson to The Beachcomber) and the sheer determination of a handful of people.

Let’s start with Debi Richards. Still somewhat new to the post, Richards has already demonstrated that she’s a can-do director of Vashon’s Chamber of Commerce. She’s energetic, hard working and resourceful.

She also has a heart. Richards felt sick that a fantastic source of revenue had suddenly been turned off a few weeks before Christmas and at a time when news abut Vashon’s degree of need keeps pouring in. She started thinking and hatched a plan — one that required some support among the merchant community, a group of people with whom she’s cultivated much goodwill.

Then there was the sheriff’s office — and in particular Sgt. John Hall, who seems to have a sincere interest in Vashon, was also troubled by the way the situation played out and was keen on finding a solution.

And finally, of course, we have the elves themselves — led by a pair of retired men who have played their roles in this drama with an appropriate degree of understated charm.

Bernie O’Malley — Central Casting couldn’t have come up with a better elf name — has taken the situation seriously, expressing concern about the time they’ve lost. Tag Gornall, a retired marine mammal vet, seems a bit more whimsical, uttering occasional droll comments about the true nature of elves. Both men have kept their wits about them, even as KOMO’s news cameras appeared on Island to cover the drama.

So yes, the elves are back. Vashon, once again, captured the region’s attention as a quirky place. And magic — in the form of oversized elves in red noses and striped stockings — will again grace our Island. Drive carefully, and carry a few extra bucks.


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