"Ellen on a Stick" and Polly the Travel Frog do London and Ireland
by Debbie and Candee
Debbie, Candee and "Ellen on a Stick" with Martin Sheen
Several years ago, my friend Candee and I decided to take a driving trip to Ireland. We excitedly planned the trip and in the process decided to tack on a few days in London. What started as a simple vacation turned into a never to be forgotten trip, where we met many wonderful people and experienced some unexpected surprises.
As a little background, I am a school nurse and Candee is a reading specialist in an elementary school. We decided to involve one of the third grade classes at her school in the excitement of our trip. Many of the students at the school will probably never have the opportunity to travel so we thought they might enjoy it.
From the very beginning there was a lot of excitement and interest from the students we were working with. They worked on various projects including a pen pal exchange, looking up travel related information on the computer, and had quizzes and various other projects to learn about Ireland and travel in general.
Candee and I decided to make it even more fun-filled and real for them and had another friend sew a stuffed frog that we planned to take along with us as a mascot. We were excited about the frog and named her Polly the Travel Frog — she even had her own passport. Our plan was to take pictures of Polly at various well-known sites throughout London and Ireland. We felt the children would be excited to follow her journey through pictures.
Most people would consider taking a stuffed frog along on a trip to Europe quite enough but we are very quirky and wanted to go one step further. We decided to take Ellen Degeneres along...okay not Ellen, just her head...okay, not really her head, just a picture of her on a stick.
“Ellen on a Stick “ was born!
Before you think we're really strange, our idea was to capture Ellen's attention and possibly have her agree to come to our school to read to our kids.
At first we were a little bit embarrassed about being two grown women toting around a green stuffed frog. (At this point “Ellen” had not even made an appearance). Polly was actually very well received and most of the people we approached were more than willing to have their picture taken with her. As one man from Dublin said to us, “anything for the kids.”
Now we fast forward to when “Ellen on a Stick” started to make an appearance. We were almost overwhelmed at the responses we got. People were actually clamoring to have their picture taken with “Ellen on a Stick.” Many also wrote notes to Ellen in a travel journal we took along specifically for that purpose.
Needless to say we had many exciting adventures and met many wonderful people that we normally would not have met just by doing this. One of the highlights was having the opportunity of meeting Martin Sheen and having pictures taken with him and “Ellen on a Stick” while (believe it or not) he was wearing his “Ellen underwear”! He too wrote a personal note to Ellen in our travel journal.
We also met one of Queen Elizabeth's personal body guards and he allowed us onto the grounds of Buckingham Palace for a private viewing of the Changing of the Guard. It was quite an honor and it was all because we had “Ellen” with us.
Interestingly enough, when we returned home from our trip, we put together a slide show and sent it to off to the producers of Ellen's show — and we actually heard back from them. They were very interested in our idea but because it was so late in the taping season, nothing ever became of it. Can you imagine my excitement when I answered my phone one day and a producer from the show was on the other end?
Back to our kids...we put a separate slide show together for the them and they were fascinated by watching Polly explore places they had read and learned about only a few weeks earlier. Candee and I had a wonderful trip and their positive response was the icing on the cake!
We love to travel and enjoy doing things like this to make the trips more memorable. Who knows who might show up on one of our future trips. Please check out our web site to keep up to date with any new surprises...www.LearnTravelGrow.com.