December 24, 2003

`Naked Elves’ Spreading Holiday Cheer

The Naked Elves are Alabama's newest holiday rage.

What began as a practical joke has evolved into an odd yuletide tradition: Grown men wearing red boxer shorts, Santa hats and lighted suspenders as they travel around Birmingham singing off-key carols.

Garnering fans in two counties, the Naked Elves have entertained at nearly 30 apartments, restaurants and homes with their slightly warped version of Christmas cheer.

Dozens of families got a visit from the men leading up to Christmas.

"It's so much fun to see their faces, especially when they don't know we are coming," said David Bryar, the head elf.

Five years ago, four guys gathered on the lawn of Neal Phillips' house clad only in boxers to tease Phillips' wife Sarah.

Belting out an off-key version of traditional Christmas carols, the men stood nearly naked in the December night with nothing but their holiday spirit. And with that, a tradition was born.

Stealing from house to house Monday night, the men quietly parked and sneaked across the lawn of a home near Alabaster. Standing in a line, a designated elf delivered a quick push of the doorknob before rushing back to reclaim his place in line.

As the family came to the door, the caroling began.

The Naked Elves delivered a rushed version of "Jingle Bells" that quickly evolved into "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." In less than a minute the elves were done, scampering to vehicles parked beneath a large tree.

"Time for the next family," said elf Tony Scott as he jumped into a truck carrying the men from house to house.

The downside, of course, is the cold.

While an Alabama Christmas doesn't conjure up images of Jack Frost, the weather can still dip below freezing. That's pretty chilly for the Naked Elves.

"The worst was one night when it was 21 degrees," said elf Kyle Belcher. "That was a long night because all we got on is all you see here. Not much at all."