The sleigh from the movie “Elf” will travel through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, past the sea of twirly-swirly gumdrops and then down the Long Island Expressway and through the Midtown Tunnel.
The 18-foot, one-ton sleigh — with the Clausometer on the dashboard and Kringle 3000 jet turbine engine mounted underneath — will return to Manhattan on Sunday for the first time since Buddy the Elf helped save Christmas two decades ago.
The sleigh will get a police escort from its home at the Halesite Fire Department in the Town of Huntington on Long Island to Bergdorf Goodman department store on Fifth Avenue in celebration of the movie’s 20th anniversary. It will be on display between 57th Street and 58th Street from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the public to climb aboard and take photo ops.
“People will be able to take ‘Elfies’ on the sleigh,” said Mark Bozek, a Huntington Bay resident who purchased the ginormous piece of movie memorabilia in an online auction for $12,000 shortly after the movie was released and later donated it to the local fire department.
At the time of the purchase, Bozek and his wife Susan had just moved to the neighborhood from Florida. They were throwing a holiday party to meet their new neighbors, and Mark said he was searching for unique holiday décor when he came across a two-week online auction offering props from the movie “Elf.”
He was expecting to bid on an outfit from the movie or a bottle of syrup or something that would very easily fit in a garage…until he saw the sleigh and made an initial offer of $500.
“I thought I was going to get it for 500 bucks, but the last hour of the two weeks is when everybody tries to outbid you,” Bozek said. “That’s when my competitive juices got going. It just got kind of insane, but I wasn’t going to lose at that point.”
Not included in the $12,000 he paid for the sleigh was the cost of shipping it from Los Angeles, where he said it was on display at The Grove shopping mall.
“So, I had to ship it for about as much as I paid for it from Los Angeles to my front lawn in Huntington Bay,” he said.
It was then displayed on his front lawn for the holiday party.
“Then his wife said to him, ‘Now what?'” said Larry Northcote, the Halesite fire district manager and volunteer firefighter. “They both talked about it and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we gave it to the fire department and they could use it as a holiday decoration?'”
Bozek’s only ask was that they care for the sleigh in the same manner that Buddy would — and return it if they ever decide to get rid of it.
The sleigh has been used annually in Huntington’s holiday parades and sits on display in front of the Halesite Fire Department throughout the season.
“Every year we have a little holiday committee, and they’ll spruce it up, they’ll paint it, they’ll fix any cracks that have developed,” said Northcote, who has dressed as Buddy the Elf and sat aboard the sleigh for many of the neighborhood’s parades. “We do our little part to spread some holiday cheer.”
The sleigh will now bring that holiday cheer to the area near Central Park where Buddy — portrayed by actor Will Ferrell — and his family helped make it fly by restoring Christmas spirit.
The sleigh will be trailered through the Midtown Tunnel — a tribute to how Buddy first arrived in Manhattan to look for his father by walking through the Lincoln Tunnel — and over to Fifth Avenue, which is closed to traffic between 48th Street and 59th Street on Sunday’s during the holiday season.
Bozek, 63, for years had wanted to bring the sleigh into Manhattan, but he had struggled to find the time to arrange the logistics required to transport Santa’s non-flying sleigh from Long Island to the busiest city in the world. It all came together within days earlier this week, he said, with the help of Laura Slatkin of NEST New York and Marie Ternes Boster of Fifth Avenue Association, who combined to help to arrange the convoy and obtain the necessary permits.
“Then I called the New York State police and asked if they’d escort the sleigh into the city and they loved the idea,” Bozek said. “So much so that the signs on the Grand Central Parkway that say ‘No Trucks Allowed’ now say ‘No Trucks and No Sleighs Allowed.’ They made that happen for this.”
So, those who adore the classic holiday movie will have to change their Sunday plans and come spend the day with other humans who share an affinity for elf culture. Then they can make snow angels for two hours, and then go ice skating, and then eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough as fast as they can, and then snuggle.
“I am a huge believer in discreetly giving out smiles,” Bozek said. “In these not so great times that we’re living in, if you can gesture something that’s going to bring happiness and smiles for a moment, you should.”
Because, as Buddy the Elf once said, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”