There were a lot of reasons Palm Springs was my favorite week on the job so far. For one, Palm Springs is absolutely amazing – not only are there gorgeous mountains on the edge of the city, but there are also huge palm trees lining virtually every street. Plus, Palm Springs has an awesome downtown filled with small shops and an ice cream store that sells none other than pineapple dole whip (I’ve never been able to find this outside of Disney before). Second, THE Brenda Grover – Elise’s mom who is also the woman behind our swaggy peanut hats and nightgowns – visited us for most of the week. But what really made it the best week ever was that it was Peanutter Challenge Week!
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Peanutter Challenge Week is a week on the job where the Peanutters get to find and schedule all of their own events. Beyond that, the week is also a giant competition between all three Peanutter teams to see who can do the most events and gain the most media coverage during the week. The whole point is to try and take over the town by getting really involved in the community and doing as much as you can for one week.
Luckily for me, my team is just as competitive as I am, and as soon as we found out Challenge Week was a thing, we knew we wanted to win. Immediately upon arriving, we bought supplies and transformed Shelly into the Haunted NUTmobile and Mr. Peanut into The Cat in the Hat (this costume worked well because the other two Peanutters got to be Thing 1 and Thing 2) because it was the week leading up to Halloween.
The first two days of Challenge Week were supposed to be our off days, but because we really wanted to win, we spent them driving around and randomly showing up at different news outlets to try and get media hits. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to turn away a giant, walking peanut and his even more giant peanut car when they’re right in front of you. By the end of the week, we had been in newspapers, on radio and TV and featured in countless tweets and blogs. Mr. Peanut even got to do a media event at the local police department, which involved inchworming through a SWAT car to take a picture out of the turret. As you can imagine, this was no easy task for a giant nut, and by the end Mr. P was sweatier and more exhausted than ever before in his 101 years, but hey, anything for a media hit.
As good as it felt to kill it with the media coverage, our events were what really made the week. We ended up working ten events including a nursing home visit, a food drive, a 6k up a mountain (which Brenda the superwoman ran in), a pet food drive and fashion show and a Halloween storytelling for kids at the library. Not only were these events more fun and rewarding than our typical grocery store days, but they gave me more of a sense of accomplishment because we had actually selected, booked and handled all of the details by ourselves.
Although we were working way harder and much longer hours than usual, we also had a ton of fun both at events and outside of work. As mentioned, Elise’s mom was in town for a visit, which was a total surprise to Elise. Brenda had reached out to Conner and I and enlisted our help in pulling off the surprise, which we managed to do over dinner on one of our first nights in town. It was so nice to get to spend a lot of time with Brenda throughout the week because we had heard so much about her that she already felt like family. She was so sweet and helpful throughout the week that it made Challenge Week that much easier and more enjoyable for all of us.
Although the entire week was very memorable, potentially my favorite memory was when Mr. Peanut won a dance contest at a huge Halloween festival – our last event of the week. Mr. Peanut was asked to participate in a disco contest and ended up competing against twelve other people, most of them were gay men as Palm Springs has one of the largest gay populations in the country. As soon as he got on stage and The YMCA began to play, Mr. Peanut danced his heart out and there wasn’t a person in the crowd who wasn’t clapping along or hysterically laughing at the giant dancing nut. I’ve never been so proud of any human or nut before, and my pride only grew when Mr. Peanut was announced the winner. It was definitely a Halloween I’ll never forget.
Even though challenge week was draining, it was such a good week because I felt like we truly became part of the community in Palm Springs. Everywhere we went people were telling us that they’d already seen us at a different event or on the news, and we also got to know a lot of local influencers like news anchors, police officers and other prominent people in the community. On top of that, we were having so much fun at events and making magic for so many other people that it hardly felt like a “challenge.” When I think of what being a Peanutter should be like or what I want it to be, my experience in Palm Springs for Challenge Week comes pretty dang close.
Here’s a video that Conner put together of our Challenge Week: