A Little Surprise For the Prize-Giver

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Behold the easy-publicity, make-ya-feel-good corporate kids' contests: The Fruit Roll-Ups $1,000 search for the funniest child comedians?! The McDonald's $2,500 prize for the most active child! And from Lego, the big kahuna: a $5,000 prize for each of 10 kids who display "creativity."

That last one's winners were announced last week, and Bethesda's Kelsie Kimberlin, 8, got the nod. The judges of Lego's first annual Creativity Awards got more than they bargained for.

When the third-grader is asked to describe her winning entry to Lego's Creativity Awards, her explanation -- with just a little prompting from her dad, Brett -- is on message: "I don't want kids to lose any parents in the war."

She wrote this in her application essay, saying that her creativity came through singing songs like "Happy Springtime," a reworking of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" with nearly 50,000 YouTube hits.

A team of judges, including novelist Dave Eggers and Wired magazine editor in chief Chris Anderson, scanned 1,000 entries, voting Kelsie one of 10 winners. Five grand for peace. Nice.

Except . . . had anyone, other than those 50,000 YouTubers, actually seen "Happy Springtime"?

"We were judging the basic creativity of the essay," says Lego spokeswoman Julie Stern.

Ah. That would mean no? Correct.

So, a synopsis: "Happy Springtime (Bush Is Over)" is more than five minutes of John 'n' Yoko footage, of birds fluttering past a billboard reading "Imagine Peace" and of beautiful children singing, cherubically, "Buuush is ooover!" which, incidentally, is also what their T-shirts say. "Bush Is Over. If You Want It." A credit at the end leads viewers to Justice Through Music, a civic engagement nonprofit run by Kelsie's father.

Pro-peace? Guilt by cherub? Having nothing whatsoever to do with Legos? You decide.

And, insert obvious joke here about the editor in chief of Wired -- Wired!-- not taking the time for a YouTube search.

According to Stern, the folks at Lego did not watch "Happy Springtime" until after Kelsie had already been declared a winner, when her proud mother, Tatiana, e-mailed the company links to the video. "I'll be honest. We were a bit surprised," Stern says.

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