“Look, here she comes!”

The mother watching the parade with her young daughter was pointing right at me!

Eyes aglow with excitement, they clearly recognized me as I marched in the Stow 4th of July parade.

Were they excited because I was tossing out candy? Passing out promotional coupons? Throwing our free Cafe O’Play T-shirts? Was it because they just loved the Cafe and felt I was a warm and friendly owner?

That’s when I realized they weren’t pointing AT me, they were pointing BEHIND me.

“Look, she’s singing! Oh, you love this song!” the mother exclaimed. Her daughter was fascinated and mouthing the words to the song from a popular movie.

I finally noticed the music and realized my adoring fans were really adoring the princess on the float behind me! These Disney-styled live characters were all taking a turn on the float to sing children’s favorites.

Free candy? I wanted to offer. Text to enter to win a free birthday party package? Nah, never mind, I decided. The little one’s eyes were locked with her princess idol and there was no disrupting this reverence.

That’s when I realized how far behind I had fallen from our Cafe O’Play vehicle, so I jogged to catch up.

Upstaged by the character visit once again!

It’s ok, I’m quite used to it. In fact, I can’t help but love it.

There is nothing so enthralling as seeing a child enraptured by a live character visit. I can’t help but feel a few vicarious butterflies of excitement when I see a little boy or girl overcome by wonder.

Since we opened Cafe O’Play over 2 years ago, we have hosted character visits for weekly events and also for special events.

The best thing about these events is they not only give the child an opportunity to get a picture with their favorite character, they frequently get to PLAY with them in our Play Area. (We try to choose characters whose costumes are not too limiting).

Whether superhero or princess, TV or movie personality, these characters can be found  playing hide and seek, dancing, throwing balls or hosting games with the children. Never are those smiles wider than when they get to enjoy this bonding time with their beloved stars.

Last month we enjoyed a special Luau with the Polynesian Princess and weekly action with Patriotic Hero. This month we look forward to Tinkerbell’s charm every Friday from 10am-11am. (These weekly character visits are included with admission to play on that day). Next month, Honey Bear will be back to play.

We’ll keep ‘em coming.

Somehow I don’t remember my kids having so many opportunities to see such impressive characters up close when they were little.

I wish they had.

Seeing wonder on a kid’s face is worth being upstaged for.