CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – U-Haul Customer Service Representative and bubbly 24-year-old Kara McPeak has never been to Disney World.
But why travel all that way when you get to see a Disney princess every time you glance in the mirror.
McPeak, a University of Prince Edward Island student on the cusp of earning her second degree, has effectively delivered one of Disney’s newest animated stars to Canada. And in doing so, she has made a lot of awestruck little girls very happy this holiday season.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect this at all,” said McPeak, who began what has become a very busy part-time business making appearances as Princess Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. “I thought maybe I could get one party a weekend, but it’s just been crazy.”
McPeak, who will soon have a teaching degree to accompany her arts degree, seems to embrace her wealth of responsibilities. When she is not attending school or spending time with her husband, she is often working for U-Haul along with her parents and brother-in-law.
Katrina Williams, Kara’s mother, is a General Manager and has been with U-Haul since 1997. Trevor Williams, Katrina’s husband, is a seasoned Area Field Manager and native Canadian. The couple met while taking GM certification courses in Phoenix.
“Kara started working for U-Haul in 2008 in high school. It paid for all of her university. She lived at home, and that income from U-Haul paid for her university by working part-time and saving.”
McPeak’s financial wisdom is rivaled only by her liberal arts gifts. Despite never taking a singing lesson, she can hit high notes as well as many of the voices you hear on the radio – and in Disney movies.
Her singing talent, affection for Disney and desire to make children happy led to the idea of visiting hospitals as Princess Elsa. But when she wasn’t permitted to sing and interact with the children the way she hoped, she started P.E.I. Princess Parties in August.
For a small fee, McPeak will dress up in full Princess Elsa costume, takes pictures with children and perform the hit song “Let it Go” at parties. She can be reached on Facebook at PEI Princess Parties and on Twitter @PEPrincessParty.
Lately, business has been booming with requests from shopping malls, retail stores, children’s fundraising events and company functions and in addition to the usual birthday gigs. McPeak recently had six appearances on one Saturday.
“I got to do the Children’s Wish (fundraiser) and that was a really special thing all those children,” McPeak said. “I get to travel all over the island. I have to remain in character, and I kind of have to fill in the background of the character because you never know what questions you’ll get asked. You might get, ‘Where’s Princess Anna?’ And I have to say, ‘Well, Anna’s back at the castle.’”
McPeak’s most memorable appearance came at the Charlottetown Christmas Parade.
Katrina decided to enter a float in the parade using a U-Haul truck and trailer. A Frozen-themed stage was assembled in a week, and McPeak – or Princess Elsa – waved and sang on the float along with friends, who also were in costume.
Brandi Ramsay, a U-Haul Customer Service Representative who used two of her days off to help get the trailer ready, dressed up as Princess Anna – Elsa’s sister.
Not only did the idea prove to great publicity for U-Haul, but the float took “Best First Time Entry” honors. It was one of only 10 floats to receive an award from a field of 90.
“Katrina really likes doing this,” said Bruce Bennett, Marketing Company President for U-Haul Company of Atlantic Canada. “It’s all about awareness, right? There are a lot of people standing there to see that parade.
“Trevor is an AFM, Katrina is a GM and Kara is a CSR. It’s a U-Haul family.”
McPeak’s career plan is to eventually teach senior high students. She has an upcoming two-month trip to China planned as part of the final phase for teaching degree.
In the meantime, McPeak will continue to enchant as a Disney character and enhance the character of U-Haul.
“Oh definitely, I still really enjoy working at U-Haul,” McPeak said. “You meet really wonderful people while doing this job. And the parade was pretty awesome because I got to combine two jobs I really enjoy.”
Have you used U-Haul to spread cheer among your community? Share your story with us in the comments below!