A Woman of Many Hats

A butterfly, spider, and coyote are just some of the 40 earthly creatures Carolyn Lauing-Finzer dresses as as a costumed storyteller, a role that began 46 years ago with the girl scouts.

“There was a need for there to be a storyteller at the end of the year jamborees so I was the designated one,” she said. “So I began inventing and creating costumes that primarily dealt with earth issues.”

The life-long Naperville resident calls herself “The Mad Hatter of Storytelling.” The costumes help to take on the personas of her eclectic collection of characters, from Gourdilia the goddess of gourds to Flossee the tooth fairy.

“I try to put whimsy into everything that I do,” she said. “I try to entertain people, make them smile and I always tell people that the “F” in my last name Finzer stands for fun.”

With that fun, she also brings an important theme to each presentation.

“Be green. Of all the things that live on this earth with humans, be aware of them, appreciate them,” said Finzer. “That’s the message into all the programs that I give.”

She delivers that message while volunteering for a various local organizations like Naper Settlement, the Conservation Foundation, the Naperville Garden Club, and local schools. You name it, she’s been there.

“We must always have the desire to learn one new thing each day – I believe that – to keep expanding our mind.”

Finzer says she loves the attention her costumes draw even in public.

“Those who have seen me at the grocery store wearing this monarch hat will come up to me, especially children, and say ‘Monarch lady! I saw you at an outdoor festival’ and I love that,” said Finzer.

A tutu made from recycled cardboard and a green sweatshirt decorated with spots complete her latest costume, Lilly the frog, who will make an appearance at the conservation foundation’s upcoming green earth fair.

In addition to her many hats, Finzer has won numerous honors. Among them are the Naperville Jaycee’s Distinguished Service Award in Culture and History and the Naperville Art League’s Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award.


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