Tuesday, November 8, 2016

An Audit of Oddities

By C.J. Hirschfield

Each year, Children’s Fairyland is required to conduct an audit of its financials. For a number of years, CPA Hilary Crosby has done the job for us. Last week, she spent the day poring over our books as well as other documents. It’s typically a pretty dry process.

But all of a sudden Hilary broke out in raucous laughter, surprising all of us. Whatever she was reading was clearly hilarious, so much so that she felt the need to take a photo of it.

These "clothes" play a role at Fairyland. Really.

When I heard she was reading one of my monthly Executive Director Reports, I was baffled. How could my reports – which cover financials, development activities and park improvement and maintenance activities — be such a hoot? And especially to Hilary, who has done audits for 22 years, for more than 1,000 clients, and presumably has seen it all?

The answer: Our reports feature spots of whimsy scattered among the otherwise mundane. The work we do to delight little kids can sound a little silly sometimes, but it’s serious business to us.
Fairyland's Jolly Trolly

Here is the section that prompted belly laughs. It’s a report a month’s work describing the work done by Fairyland employee Kevin Cruz.

Ride Mechanic:
  • Serviced all four rides
  • Rebuilt stop button on Wonder-Go-Round
  • Installed new brake pads on Trolly
  • Diagnosed bad braking on [Anansi’s] Web and fixed
  • Greased windmill
  • Reattached clothes on clothesline
  • Replaced weak spring with a stronger one on caucus wheel
  • Figured out the scratchy noise on the Owl and the Pussycat music box
  • Helped with designating power points for Christmas lights
  • Changed or reset all timers
  • Helped set up and run snow machine
  • Helped with tripped breakers and divided power to different circuits
  • Helped organize Lark shed
  • Stopped leak on the Fountain of Youth
  • Fixed sticky eye on Happy Dragon
  • And Kevin found the time to get married J
Anansi's Web, our little Ferris wheel.

Once I saw this through Hilary’s eyes, I understood the humor. Reattaching clothes on the clothesline, fixing scratchy noises in a storybook box, stopping a leak in the Fountain of Youth and fixing a dragon’s sticky eye are all in a day’s work for us. But to an outsider, it can seem pretty quirky.

Happy Dragon. His eyes swivel back and forth when they're working properly.

It’s kind of like the phase new employees go through before they’re familiar with our park. “What’s your location?” they’ll ask via the walkie-talkie. Response: “I’m at the Humpty Dumpty Wall, heading for the Bubble Elf.”

Oswald, our Bubble Elf.

At first, new employees have no idea what we’re talking about. But before long they get in the groove and are talking just like the rest of us.

Most of Hilary’s nonprofit clients (her specialty field) do not have as many moving parts as Fairyland. Summer camp, sleepovers, a cafĂ© and gift store—our revenue streams can be a challenge to follow. 

“In between all of the work you do all of the time is another whole world that pokes through in the reports,” Hilary told me. “It keeps reminding you what Fairyland is -- how sweet it is.”

She was particularly impressed that I ended Kevin’s report by noting that he even found the time to get married. “The fact that you thought it was appropriate to communicate this to the board—to remind them that staff is made up of people with lives – well, I just loved it,” she said.

Hilary has been sharing her photo with friends, who apparently love it as much as she does.

We’re glad that little snapshots of our wacky world can make people smile.

Gotta go! Last night an alarm went off behind the Pumpkin, and I need to check out the raccoon tracks we found on the door.

The Big Pumpkin espresso stand. Stop by for a pumpkin spice latte!


C.J. Hirschfield has served for 14 years as executive director of Children’s Fairyland, where she is charged with the overall operation of the nation’s first storybook theme park.

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