By Jill Fox
Watercrest residents got a special treat on Friday when their neighborhood turned into a theme park for one hour.
Brandy Yska, a member of the neighborhood’s social committee and the owner of True Character Parties, organized an evening like none other with characters galore.
From princesses greeting cars as residents entered the community, to Mickey and Minnie Mouse waving from one home’s upstairs balcony, look-alike VIPs could be seen around every corner.
Star appearances included Donald and Daisy Duck, Woody and Jesse from Toy Story, superheroes, and even some Star Wars icons.
Marcee Pauff thought it was a really sweet idea and contributed 10 dollars, even though she didn’t believe her older children would participate.
“Then, when my kids saw Jesse and Woody through the window, they ran outside,” she said.
Performing in cul de sacs isn’t precisely how Yska’s business began. A preschool director for ten years at Kiddie Academy in Coral Springs, she decided to start a party planning business in June 2019.
Now, her one-hour entertainment packages and character meet and greets have turned into driveway celebrations and birthday calls by way of Zoom and Facetime.
Yska, who has lived in Watercrest for almost four years with her husband, Andrew, and two daughters Andie, 5, and Ellie, 7, said the fun-filled evening came about because she was getting lots of calls from neighbors about parades, so she decided to get everyone involved.
Other social events like teddy bear hunts had taken place on Friday nights, so she put this out on the Watercrest Facebook page and asked for small donations to pay her staff members.
The response was overwhelming. People donated between 10 and 20 dollars ahead of time, and Yska was able to provide 20 characters to entertain the 500 homes in the neighborhood. From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., residents drove around in cars and golf carts while others rode their bikes to observe the spectacle.
Stacy Troy, who also contributed, said her two-year-old daughter, Maya loved it.
“It was the closest she has been to Disney World and the closest she’ll be for a while, so it was cute to see her face light up when she saw the characters right in our own neighborhood,” said Troy.
Yska said since parades started getting popular, she’s been getting non-stop calls.
“We weren’t doing much for a month—then, out of nowhere, we gained popularity.”
Now, Yska’s offering parade performances for $75 and character phone calls for $25.
She said they used to only perform for children, but now they are receiving calls for adult surprises, which has been really cool.
“People are bringing the party home.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked on the public relations side as well as the television side of marketing for NBC Universal. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach and now resides in Parkland with her husband, Brian and their two children, Madden, 10 and Randi, 7.
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