Grinch (copy)

Thomas Dawe, right, dressed as the Grinch, walks in the Middletown Christmas Parade on Sunday with his son, Cameron, who is dressed as Buddy the Elf.

The Grinch might have stolen Christmas in Whoville, but he’s capturing hearts in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Thomas Dawe, a Clear Brook resident, has been dressing up as the Grinch for about 10 years.

He started donning the green outfit when his kids would watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” during the holiday season.

“They just thought he was as cool as Santa,” said Dawe, who works for FEMA and owns Winchester Real Estate Connection. “The kids loved it."

Dawe said he went the cheap route with his costume at first, but it has since evolved into a more professional look. The mask he wears is glued on and resembles the type Jim Carrey wore in his portrayal of the Grinch in the 2000 film “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“I can’t even really eat anything unless it’s small, because chewing will dislodge the glue," he sad.

He even wears green contact lenses.

Dawe said he would dress up as the Grinch and surprise his kids, either at home or when they were out and about.

Then other kids noticed and their parents would ask if they could take pictures.

“It just snowballed from there,” Dawe said. “That’s when I really stepped it up and did some research to get a better look.”

It now takes him over an hour to get ready. 

Dawe said his wife, who recently passed away, was a big fan of the costume.

“She enjoyed helping me get ready, and she really loved the smiles that we would get when she would drive me somewhere,” he said.

Dawe's Grinch services are available for hire during the holidays. He also does parades, private parties and charity events.

He took the last year off, but he decided to start back up because it was what his wife would want him to do.

“Anything somebody needs, we try to work with them,” Dawe said. “I think we’re doing a good thing, because there’s not really that many real Grinches out there.”

On Sunday, he took part in the Middletown Christmas Parade with the I Can 2 organization along with his son, Cameron, who is special needs.

“I always pay special attention to anybody that has any type of disability,” Dawe said. “It just melts my heart.”

Dawe said he loves seeing kids, parents and even grandparents get a kick out of seeing Mr. Grinch.

“We don’t know when we run into someone what difficulties they have in their life. But if you can put a smile on their face? Hey, you’ve done a good thing,” he said. “Just because your situation might be bad, someone else’s situation is always worse. I just want to put some smiles on people’s faces.”

Dawe already has about 20 bookings this season. For more information or to book the Grinch, contact Dawe at 540-323-0100.

— Contact Matt Welch at

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