No termites in this Grinch’s smile
Grinch (aka Myles Young) lauded for bringing smiles to children and customers to stores
By BEN CARLSON
Wednesday, December 29, 2021 at 6:00 am
The year’s Anderson County Person of the Year gets a smattering of boos wherever he goes.
He is, after all, wearing the costume of what is perhaps the most detestable Christmas characters of all time, Mr. Grinch.
Trouble is, instead of having a “termites in his smile” and the “tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile,” Anderson County’s version of the Grinch has always had a heart for his community — even before it grew three sizes on that storied Christmas Day in Whoville.
Meet Myles Young, 35, who has spent the past several years donning his Grinch costume much to the delight of children, their parents and even the Lawrenceburg business community.
“I’d be glad to touch him with a 39-foot pole,” joked John Bailey, owner of J. Bailey & Son on Main Street. “The amount of attention he brings to my business is fantastic.
The kids follow him around and parents follow him into my business.”
Myles, a triplet son of Troy and Benita Young and lifelong resident of Lawrenceburg, has become a constant figure during recent Christmas events and parades, but it was his selflessness this year that really captured the hearts of local children.
“Everyone is feeling kind of blah right now because of COVID,” said Julie Wise Case, librarian at Robert B. Turner Elementary School.
Looking for ways to bring some happiness to children amid the pandemic, Wise said one of the district’s kindergarten teachers shared the idea of having a Grinch day.
“As soon as she said we need a Grinch day, I said we have to call Myles,” Case said, adding he never hesitated to participate.
“He said, ‘I’ll take time off work and I’ll be there,’ ” Case said.
Myles ended up visiting every single classroom in the building, along with a number of classrooms at Emma B. Ward Elementary before the Christmas break.
“I can’t say enough about someone who would take time off work, come into a crazy elementary school and make every single child feel special,” Case said, noting that Young was able to connect with children who normally aren’t communicative.
“We have several children it’s very difficult to reach,” she said. “But on that day, all the kids were smiling. He didn’t know who those children were, but as soon as he walked in the door, they would run up to him and he would talk to them.
“He was just so playful with them. They just loved him.”
Young’s mother, Benita, said he has always been willing to do what he can to help others and be involved in the community.
When asked what sparked his interest in being the Grinch, his mom said it’s because there were already plenty of people portraying Santa.
“That’s just Myles,” she said. “He just loves to dress up like that and do something fun for people. He likes the Grinch movie and saw it as an opportunity to be involved in the community and do things for kids.”
While most kids love to see the Grinch show up, some cringe at seeing the infamous green-faced villain who stole Christmas from the gentle people from Whoville in the Dr. Seuss classic.
A prime example was during the recent Light Up Lawrenceburg event, when hundreds of people packed the Lawrenceburg Green expecting to see Santa flown in on a helicopter as was the case during a previous Light Up event.
Instead, the helicopter landed and off stepped the Grinch, replete in a Santa costume and, true to character, handing out onions instead of gifts.
“He really plays off of that,” said Benita. “He takes it and runs with it and has fun with it. “If he sees a child is terrified, he will make light of it and divert their attention to something else. Yes, he got booed when he flew in, but he had a blast with it and kept on going.
“He’s so good at being off the cuff. He’s a lot like his dad in those situations.”
Case, the Turner Elementary librarian, said while the Grinch certainly is an unsavory character, knowing that he eventually has a change of heart is a good lesson for children.
“People think the Grinch is mean,” she said. “But he does it with a persona of how he learned it’s better to be kind than not be kind.”
It didn’t take long for Myles’ parents to realize their son wasn’t one to stand by when it came to helping out and supporting the community.
“He was always very outgoing and very competitive, even at a young age,” his mom said. “He always liked to be out there, doing stuff.”
Among that “stuff” was taking photos, a passion he inherited from his father. By the time he was 6, he had a camera in his hands and before long was providing photos of basketball games to The Anderson News.
Fast forward a few years and he was donning the Darin the Lion costume to help his father, who is now the mayor but at the time served as sheriff, promote the DARE program.
Fast forward again and Myles was front and center in bringing a haunted house to town, again joining his father’s effort to raise funds for a worthy cause while providing what proved to be a regional attraction that has brought national attention and thousands of visitors to Anderson County.
Also as a child, Myles joined his brothers and parents in helping revive the flagging high school basketball program. Benita said the family got together with former coach Glenn Drury and his wife Jennifer and came up with the idea for Cat Madness, an event designed to build some hype in boys and girls programs before the season began.
“All the kids had a part in that,” Benita said. “They’ve always been involved in giving back to the community.”
That involvement isn’t just limited to events involving children. Myles is also a hit with the business community and regularly portrays Grinch during chamber of commerce functions such as the recent Shop Small Saturday.
Jeri Lynn Carmickle, director for the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, said Myles is always willing to help.
“I called and asked if he minded coming down to visit with the businesses and do a video of him doing Grinchy things, like grabbing stuff and walking off with it,” she said with a laugh.
“We did it again this year with a music video parody called All I Want for Christmas is Food, highlighting the chamber’s restaurant members.
“It was fantastic. When the Grinch walks in and people are shopping, it adds something special, especially when COVID has wrecked some of the community spirit. We wanted to bring him in, make people laugh and give them something to smile about.”
Benita said she and Troy are proud of all of their sons and that having Myles named Person of the Year is something special.
“You’re always proud of your kids, not matter what they do, but to see him recognized for something he’s done for years is a real treat,” she said.
“We are proud to know that we have succeeded, is a good way of putting it, in bringing up all three of them with giving hearts.”
This article was published in The Anderson News, Franklin County’s neighboring newspaper.
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