Their light-up vests were battery-powered. Their hats were pointy. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
Coeur d’Alene’s elf-costumed Blazen Divaz had people standing in line at the Christmas Bureau over the weekend bouncing along to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Bureau recipients used their phones to take pictures of themselves alongside the performers, and children – including a toddler in footie pajamas – grinned up at them.
The bureau, which reopens today after taking Sunday off, offers a full lineup of entertainment for recipients inside the bureau. Depending on when they arrive, some people wait two or three hours to be served.
The Divaz followed a troop of Girl Scout Daisies who sang Christmas carols and passed out candy. Others on the schedule: school choirs, a vocal quartet and a dance troupe.
The group, which performs in parades and at other events throughout the Northwest and British Columbia, adapted the parade routine to perform at the Christmas Bureau.
The Divaz practice about two hours at a time, three days a week, rain or snow or shine, working out their choreography in a parking lot at Lake City High School.
“It’s a lot of dedication, but it also offers aerobic exercise,” said John Parmann, the group’s president, who said he’s not the only dude among the Divaz.
The Blazen Divaz are about 70 people ages 18 to 80-plus, though a smaller group performed Saturday. It was their first time at the bureau.
“We couldn’t turn it down,” Parmann said. He gestured toward the queue of people inside the bureau waiting their turn to receive grocery vouchers and choose toys and books for their children. “How could you turn this down?”
Brenda Pfitzer, 55, of Post Falls, said she’s been with the group since its inception. She likes the fellowship and the exercise, she said, but also the opportunity to entertain.
“If you can make somebody smile, hey, that’s the best thing in the world,” she said.
The Christmas Bureau provides children gifts and vouchers to anyone. It is organized by the Volunteers of America, Catholic Charities Spokane and The Spokesman-Review. It’s paid for by newspaper readers’ donations to the Christmas Fund.
The Christmas Fund now stands at $172,586.06.
Teck American, of Spokane, gave $10,000. Wrote David Godlewski, vice president for environment and public affairs: “It is our hope that through these efforts there might be a brighter holiday season for many and a hope for a better future for all in 2012.”
The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, a Charitable Foundation gave $3,000.
An anonymous donor from Spokane Valley gave $1,000. Taylor Engineering, of Spokane, also gave $1,000. An accompanying letter read: “We recognize that this year continues to be challenging for many and hope this can help make a difference.”
John Baumhofer, of Spokane, gave $500 in memory of his mother. L.M. and Tom Novotney, of Spokane, also gave $500.
Judith Hudson, of Spokane, gave $400 in memory of her husband, Mac.
A $300 donation came from Dan and Nancy Kessler, Darin and Kelly Petty, and Gary and Leslie Kueffler. Tom and Gini Burns, of Spokane, also gave $300.
Pauline and John Bafaro, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $200, as did Mr. and Mrs. Howard Pilcher, of Spokane. Irene Plough, of Spokane, gave $200 and wrote: “This is for the tiniest and most enthusiastic readers!”
An anonymous donor from Chattaroy gave $161.
Veterinary Surgical Specialists, of Spokane, gave $150, as did Doris and Jack Primmer, of Spokane.
Spokane residents who gave $100: Edward Ellefsen; Don Clarno; Verda Adams; Frank and Linda Browne; Jennifer Stucker; and Joe and Jeanie Hensley. An anonymous donor from Spokane Valley also gave $100, as did Jerry Dormaier Farms, of Hartline, Wash.
Margie Bonk gave $96.80 via PayPal.
The Wednesday Bridge Club gave $90.
The Vase Swedish Lodge, North Star No. 145, donated $75.
Spokane residents who gave $50: an anonymous donor; Mr. and Mrs. William Mullin; and David and Gail DeRoshia, who gave in memory of Jennie Marchioro, “who loved giving to others.” An anonymous donor from Spokane Valley also gave $50, as did M.L. and C.R. Anderson, of Spokane Valley.
Aileen Taylor gave $48.25 via PayPal.
Cyrus McLean, of Spokane, gave $45.
Darrell and Judith Shane, of Veradale, gave $35.
Two separate anonymous donors from Spokane gave $25, as did Carol Juillerat, of Spokane, and Marjorie Sporn, of Spokane Valley.