Dave Lebrone has spent the last 20 Easters knocking on people’s doors in full bunny attire. He sings, dances, paints faces and brings laughter to children and adults alike.
This year, he’s staying home.
“It’s a little damper of things because I’m so accustomed to doing it all these years,” Lebrone said.
Lebrone is among the workers and businesses caught short with communal Easter celebrations canceled. An estimated $18.1 billion is spent every year on Easter-related goods and services in the U.S., including $3.3 billion on clothes, $5.7 billion on food, $2.5 billion on chocolate, and $2.9 billion on gifts.
Lebrone does singing telegrams year-round for Clowns 4 Kids, a party-organizing company that serves New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Sometimes he’s Mickey Mouse, while on other days he shows up as a stork.
On every Easter Sunday, he dons his white, fluffy costume on jobs around New York. The gigs range from quick stops to those that last a few hours if they involve face painting, which requires that he take off the bunny paws.
The usually busy holiday—which he’s worked as a singing-telegram bunny since he was 15— dissolved in a world of social distancing. “Nobody is making the reservations for starters,” Lebrone said. He has applied for a governmental stimulus check, hoping that it can keep him afloat until the virus subsides.
Even before the virus, New Yorkers had becoming a bit less willing to hire a bunny. “No one wants to have anyone who’s a stranger in their house,” he said.
The singing telegram side of the company is a shrinking industry, with fewer customers calling for door-to-door characters each year. His reviews do indicate happy customers, with praises like “very attentive” and “amazing to work with,” sprinkled across the online comments.
Limited to a day at home reading, watching TV, surfing the internet, Lebrone had one remaining Easter wish: “I wish everyone to stay safe and pray for a cure, pray for this thing to pass.”