How the Grinch stole … hearts
In December, three families in the Green Briar neighborhood got festive. Ethan Hecker, a 17-year-old junior from Highlands Ranch, brought the Grinch to life. Inside their cozy homes, the families were in for a treat as they saw the Grinch approaching. Their eyes widened with curiosity and excitement, turning a regular day into something magical.
During the pandemic, a spark of joy emerged from the creative and extroverted spirit of Ethan. He, along with his supportive mom, Allison, launched Joy for Hire, with a mission to spread happiness in their community.
Ethan decided to blend his entrepreneurial spirit with the magic of the holiday season. Dressed as the Grinch, Ethan visits homes, spreading both excitement and a touch of mischief. What started as a teenager’s dream to save for a car has now become a tradition for many families.
“I didn’t just put on a Grinch costume. I’ve watched the Jim Carrey movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 20-plus times to make sure I have the mannerisms down,” Ethan said.
Kali Cascarano hired Ethan and Kristin King hosted the visit. Initially, some children were confused and shocked, while others were quick to join the spirited defense against the Grinch’s pranks. They shared laughter, surprise, and excitement, creating cherished memories for each family. The parents added fun with pretend snowballs and fake, wrapped gifts, making the whole experience even better. “We sure live in an amazing community,” said Kali.
Each visit costs $20, and for that price, Ethan spends five to seven minutes creeping around houses, thrilling the children. Allison plays a crucial role, driving him around, answering messages and managing Joy to Hire’s Facebook page. With 12 to 15 visits daily, seven days a week, the duo ensures each interaction is memorable.
“We had a truly wonderful experience,” shared Dina Burmeister. “The Grinch was so realistic that my 4-year-old was certain the real Grinch paid him a visit.”
Ethan, also the mascot at Highlands Ranch High School and a member of the school senate, skillfully manages his commitments. “I study in the car and take advantage of days with only one or two visits,” he revealed, emphasizing the importance of balancing his venture with high school life.
Reflecting on their journey, Allison shared the early challenges, like the $150 Grinch costume and the initial hustle to turn a profit. Looking ahead, Ethan envisions expanding Joy for Hire into a year-round endeavor, potentially hiring other kids. “I have so many ideas and goals to keep doing what I love,” he said.
In addition to his regular visits, Ethan expressed a desire to extend his services to charities, senior homes, and schools – free of charge. It is a testament to his mission of spreading joy and creating positive memories for everyone.
For more information or to schedule a visit, check out Joy for Hire on Facebook at @joyforhire.
By Dani Salas; photos courtesy of Ethan Hecker and Kali Cascarano