As a journalist, one dreams of one day scoring that one really BIG interview. That day came this past Wednesday for this writer.
Despite having interviewed some of the brightest stars in show biz during my thirty-plus year career – Bob Hope, George Burns, Chuck Norris, Prince, Paul McCartney Debbie Reynolds and others – this writer broke into a cold sweat when the call came giving the green light for a one-on-one with someone who has touched the lives of children worldwide for generations. The Easter Bunny!
The Easter Bunny has been part of holiday culture since the mention of him first appeared in print in Germany back in 1682. What follows are highlights of our conversation conducted in a secret warehouse as the elusive icon scampered about filling baskets with eggs, chocolates, jelly beans and other delights.
The Times: You sure are busy now as Easter Sunday quickly approaches, but what do you do the rest of the year?
Easter Bunny: Much like Santa who makes toys year round, my year begins almost immediately after Easter is finished. First I take a couple of days off to catch up on some of my favorite TV shows that I DVR. So it’s about two weeks of marathon TV time with my feet up, my tail on the couch with a bowl of buttered popcorn. Then I usually take a short vacation with the Mrs. and the kids to someplace warm. Then by late May, I start working on next Easter.
The Times: What is the story behind Easter Eggs? You are the Easter Bunny, not the Easter Chicken. How did eggs come to be a symbol of Easter? In fact how did you, a bunny, come to be the icon of Easter?
EB: Great questions. Bunnies have long been a symbol of fertility and of the coming of spring, which is a time of rebirth in nature. Going back as far as the ancient Egyptian times, pictures of bunnies were used in hieroglyphics to symbolize life, so who better to represent Easter in the secular world than a bunny? Eggs are also a symbol of rebirth. The Christian church believed a chick pecking its way out of the egg shell was akin to Jesus rolling the rock away from his sealed tomb and rising again to life.
Over the years, we’ve since added chocolate eggs, marshmallow eggs and jelly beans (which look like colorful little candy eggs) to baskets along with the real eggs.
The Times: It has been said you and Santa Claus are arch rivals. Is that true?
EB: Not at all. We’re really good friends, but because we live so far apart and stay busy all year making things for children for our respective holidays, we don’t have much chance to hang out together. Social networking has helped us keep in touch. The big guy and I are Facebook friends and we Tweet a lot.
The Times: Santa’s workshop is in the North Pole. How come your workshop is this old warehouse somewhere in Calumet City?
EB: Oh, this is just a branch office. I have many satellite locations just like this all around the world so my official Easter Bunny helpers have a nearby base to work from.
The Times: That makes sense.
EB: Like Santa, I have a lot of ground to cover in a very short time. I have a team of bunnies that I deputize into duty each year in March. I’m the CEO and call the shots but there’s a legion of regional graduates from the Cotton Tail Academy. Many from the top grads work right here in Northwest Indiana doing public relations stops at local malls and stores. There’s David over at Albanese Candies, Charlene at Bass Pro Shop and Louise, who's a cousin to the Energizer Bunny, so she does a lot of double shifts.
The Times: So that’s how you get all over the world with the baskets so quickly and cover so much ground leading up to Easter. You have a well-trained staff of helpers.
EB: Yeah, Santa has his elves, reindeer, and a street team that works the malls and rings bells outside of stores. His chubby crew attends the Santa School, but the standards there are lower than at Cotton Tail Academy. Not saying his job is easy, but I think mine is a little tougher. Santa only delivers toys. I’m moving perishables and it wouldn’t do to have bad eggs or stale jelly beans or melted chocolate now would it?
The Times: So well-trained official Easter Bunny helpers are on staff to help with the public relations appearances in stores leading up to Easter, but you personally oversee all basket deliveries and maintain quality control. It still seems like a tough and hazardous job. Is it worth it?
EB: It can be hazardous. Some home security systems make it hard to get in and out of houses without getting caught. Sometimes it takes being like Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible’ and dropping in from a skylight. Then there are the dogs, but I learned long ago that a pocket full of Milkbone biscuits is a quick way to sidestep that problem. Is it worth it? Although the work is hard and the hazards many, when I see the smiles on children finding their baskets on Easter morning, the answer is certainly — Yes.
The Times: Do you have anything further to say to our readers in closing?
EB: You bet I do. I wish each and every one of them — “HAPPY EASTER!”
With those words still ringing in my ears, the elusive Easter Bunny — one of the most misunderstood symbols of this joyous Christian holiday — turned tail and quickly hopped away, leaving behind only a chocolate marshmallow egg and a bag of jelly beans to close out the interview of a lifetime.