Elizabeth Haddon Elementary is currently in its 107th year of educating Haddonfield children from kindergarten through fifth grade. Thanks to a borough resident and regional store owner, the school is also celebrating its first year in possession of a costume depicting its mascot: a friendly blue dragon.
Robert Berman, a relative newcomer to Haddonfield, is putting two children through the district (ninth grader Charlotte and sixth grader Harrison) and is the owner and operator of Rasta Imposta, a Halloween decor store in Runnemede dedicated to indulging late October costumery since the early 1990s.
On the afternoon of Oct. 28, Berman made the dragon-suit donation official on the front steps of Lizzie Haddon. Although usually in the spirit, Principal Gerry Bissinger wasn’t the one tapped to suit up for the cameras. Instead, it was Karen Giorgio, a parent who is in charge of spirit wear for the school and struck several poses in the new duds.
“Gerry wanted to get into it, but we had Karen don the costume instead,” Berman explained. “I wanted someone to be in the costume for the ceremony, rather than just to hand it over as a gift.”
Berman said the idea to fashion a costume and hand it over to Haddon arose gradually, as his family and his business invested more time into making kids happy with what they do best.
“Over the last few years, the dragon has become more of a mascot for Lizzie, and more prevalent in all materials, promotions, websites and what have you,” he revealed. “It came up toward the end of last year, that it would be a nice thing for the fifth grade graduation, which as we know, didn’t happen, and the kids got stuffed animals instead.”
Since the Bermans were also involved with making costumes for Haddon’s annual talent show, it wasn’t much of a stretch to think a wearable costume, given as a token of appreciation, would be a good thing to do, to build good will.
“We started working on it a few months ago,” Berman continued. “The goal was to present it at the end of the year, which, of course, didn’t happen. And then we wanted to do it at the beginning of this year, but Gerry was on parental leave for the birth of his child.”
With the principal back at Haddon, Berman agreed that although the district was off the first week of November for fall break, it would only be a matter of time before Bissinger is spotted wearing the disguise.
“It would be better if he’s not always wearing it, but I know for a fact that he would definitely have no problem suiting up,” Berman noted. “We’ve always been big supporters of Spaghetti Bingo and whatever else needed to be done each year on the creative side of things. We’re happy to get involved.”