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Area Easter Bunny enjoys the holiday season

By Justin Reedy

After a hard day's work, the Easter Bunny loves a bowl of ice cream.

During her break from posing for pictures with children at Southlake Mall, the bunny, played by 24-year-old Crystal Wright of Griffin, needs a little frozen refreshment from her furry outfit.

"It's 110 degrees in this thing," said Wright as she sat cross-legged on the floor in a back hallway at Southlake and snacked on ice cream from Chick-fil-A. "It's real hot. I'm almost tempted to pour this ice cream down my suit."

The oppressive heat of the rabbit costume is one of the few downsides to Wright's part-time job as one of the Easter Bunnies at the mall in Morrow, though. For the stay-at-home mother of two, the seasonal job offers her a chance to be around happy children n most of them, that is n without having to deal with the downsides of having kids.

"You get to enjoy the little people and their attitudes, and then they go home with someone else," said Wright. "I think little people are real characters. They're amazing."

This is the second season she's dressed up as the Easter Bunny at Southlake, this time as an employee of Amuse Matte, a California-based firm. Though her job lasts for only a few weeks each season, Wright has had plenty of children sit on her lap n some who have loved her, others who have hated her, and at least one who didn't believe her.

"This one kid said he knew I was somebody wearing a mask, even though his parents wouldn't say so," Wright said. "He kept trying to look up my mask, and I just kept my head down so he couldn't see anything. I didn't fess up."

And though she has encountered some teen-agers who find it amusing to try and start a fight with the Easter Bunny, Wright says for the most part the children are great to work with.

"The little bitty ones either like you or they don't n there's no in between," she said. "The ones who are most difficult are the really young ones. They're just scared that a giant stuffed rabbit is trying to hug them."

But being a mother to a two-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son has helped prepare her for such situations.

"If I can get my daughter to sit with a bunny, I can get anybody to do it," Wright said.

Sometimes that just means talking to them, reassuring them, she explained, but other times it means bribing them, like the time she let a young boy pull her tail so he would calm down and sit in her lap.

"I only talk to them if they're young enough that they won't wonder why the bunny's mouth isn't moving while I talk," she said. "Sometimes it works. Sometimes it scares them. They're like, ?Oh my God, the giant bunny is talking!'"

She's had problem children and nice children come through her Easter-themed set, but one girl she met recently was one of the sweetest Wright has ever met. The young girl kept coming back and kissing her mask, Wright said, and telling her mother that she loved the bunny.

"If her momma would have let me, I would have taken her home with me," Wright said. "She was probably three years old. She was so precious."

Wright plans on coming back to the Amuse Matte location at Southlake for Christmas, when she'll just be dressed in holiday-themed clothes, and again for next Easter, when she'll once again zip up her bunny suit for her $10 per hour wage.

With Easter coming up this weekend, Wright will soon be on hiatus in her role as the Easter Bunny until next spring. But before bowing out for this year, she has to get back into character and greet her adoring public.

Throwing away her now-empty ice cream container, Wright dons the head of her rabbit suit to once again become the Easter Bunny.