Little ones celebrate Purim a little early

IRVINE — Purim may start Sunday, but preschoolers at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Irvine got a head start on festivities Friday.

Spiderman, Tinker Bell, Wonder Woman and other familiar faces made it out for the celebration — in costume.

Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jews by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai from the royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, Haman, who was plotting to kill followers of Judaism.

Public celebration is just one of the many aspects of the annual holiday.

About 300 children and adults gathered at the center, which moved to Irvine from Costa Mesa in 2004, beginning the morning with a parade around the facility, then ending with song and dance in their auditorium.

The toddlers prepared all week long, making masks and creating the scroll of Esther before finally culminating in the hour of merrymaking.

Dressed like Elvis and strumming a guitar, Jewish Education Director David Lewis got the energy up by singing holiday songs. Princesses and lions jumped and shouted while enjoying the traditional Purim pastry, hamentashen.

Marc Levin, a father from Irvine, enjoyed the morning fête. He sang along with the kids and captured the celebration on video.

"It's a great family event," he said. "It's like Halloween revisited."

His 4-year-old daughter, Alexis — dressed as Tinker Bell — said her favorite parts were the singing and eating the hamentashen.

Preschool director Peter Blair read the scroll the preschoolers made to the crowd, which tells the story of the Book of Esther. When they heard the name Haman, a loud "boo!" resonated in the room — their disapproval for the ancient villain.

Purim is a great holiday for everyone, Blair said, because it gives people a chance to have fun and be silly.

Eloise Miller, 2, arrived as Wonder Woman. As she sat, playing with her metallic gold leggings, she said she was excited to wear her ballet slippers for the day.

But for Logan Stern, 5, she decided to don a boy's Superman outfit.

"I like dressing up. I don't like the princess costumes because they're too scratchy," she said.

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