Eloise, the 6-Year-Old, Marks Milestone at Plaza

The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Marlene Aig

September 21, 1995

Eloise, a mischievous 6-year-old, has lived at the Plaza Hotel for 40 years - and hasn't aged a bit. To celebrate the anniversary of the children's book Eloise that introduced the eternal child, dozens of little girls - ages 5 to 10 - came to the hotel for a tea party Sunday, dressing and acting much as their beloved Eloise. "I like her because she's pretty, she lives in a hotel - I'd like to live in a hotel "cause you can call room service all the time," said 5-year-old Stephanie Harmer of Lakewood, N.J. Eloise took up her fictional residence at the Plaza, off Manhattan's Central; Park, in 1955 with the publication of a children's book named after her, written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight. Eloise lives on the top floor of the famed hotel with her nanny, dog, turtle and two dolls - one of which only has one arm. She "skibbles" up and down the stairs chasing the elevator, dashes noisily along hallways, always calls room service and contemplates pouring water down the mail chute. "It's my favorite book," said Amanda Warren, 10, of Atlanta, one of the few girls not wearing Eloise's trademark black skirt, suspenders and white blouse. She did have a ribbon in her hair. "I always dreamed of being here at the Plaza. But I don't seem to get into all that much trouble." Jacques van Seter, the hotel's managing director, said the fictional child and the Plaza were forever linked. "Eloise and the Plaza are synonymous with the time of the grand hotel," van Seter said. "We like to think we can keep the hotel in that era." On Sunday, bellhops in old-fashioned outfits served tea sandwiches, ice cream and candy in silver dishes. The girls were invited to the event as winners of a contest that required them to write and send birthday cards to Eloise. The high point of the afternoon was a look-alike contest in which the girls tried their best to imitate Eloise - carrying one-armed dolls, dragging turtles on leashes, waving and sticking out their tongue as they walked down a makeshift runway. The winner, who got a free weekend at the Plaza and $1,000 donated to her school, was Eden Cale, 10, of New York City, who had a hot pink streak in her hair. Her father, John Cale, is a founder of the rock group the Velvet Underground. "She embodies the spirit of Eloise," said Eden's mom, Risa. "Slightly privileged, but not snobbish."
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