COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A toy, a book and a family tradition.
At the holidays, “The Elf on the Shelf” is all of those things to many children and families.
But what you may not know is that the Elf franchise got its start right here in metro Atlanta and is still based in Cobb County.
The mischievous looking, red jumpsuit wearing, little plush elf keeps watch on children, knows what you want for Christmas and knows if you’re being naughty or nice.
“My little boy, he loves it,” local mother Beneatha Powers told Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach.
The “Elf on the Shelf” launched in 2005 and took off.
Christa Pitts and her twin sister, co-founders and co-CEOs of the Lumistella Company, started 16 years ago building the elf brand.
“It’s been quite the journey. Extremely fun,” Pitts said.
It was something they did every year with their brother growing up in Cobb County.
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“We always had an elf growing up. It wasn’t till my sister and I were in college that we realized other families didn’t have a reporting scout elf yet. So that’s how it started. We wanted other people to celebrate the Christmas season the way we did, enjoy it the way we did, have fun with it the way we did,” Pitts said.
Still based in suburban Atlanta, the female-owned, family-owned company has grown to more than 100 employees.
But a family tradition in a box was a hard sell at first.
“They looked at us as if we were crazy,” Pitts said.
The elf keeps watch, reporting back to Santa at night, then returns to its family, perched in a new spot each morning waiting for the children to wake up and find it.
But some parents don’t find it as endearing.
Last month, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Rob Leonard issued a judicial order in hopes of saving Christmas and saving forgetful parents of heartache.
The order banished all elves on the shelves from Cobb County, recalling a horrific incident in his own home where three children were sent to school in tears, accused of making the elf “lose his magic” because the elves “inexplicably don’t move overnight.”
“You just tell the kids, like, maybe he didn’t move yet. Check a little bit later,” local mother Loretta Carter said.
Pitts laughed along with the order but reminds Leonard that he has no jurisdiction over Christmas cheer.
“We did double check with his own elf, his own scout elf, and believe it or not he is still on the ‘nice list,’” Pitts said.
And despite some shenanigans, “The Elf on the Shelf” does remind us what we cherish most this season: Christmas being festive, magical, a time to be kind to others, and do good deeds… even if it may come with a side-eyed little smirk.
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