Stan Rosen dresses up in a gorilla suit and brings a bunch of happy birthday balloons for Marlene Dragisics.

Stan Rosen dresses up in a gorilla suit and brings a bunch of happy birthday balloons for Marlene Dragisics.  Mary F. Calvert (THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The fur flies

By William Glanz
September 16, 2005

Stan Rosen is living proof that one can make a living at monkey business. But it is hard work.
    That's why Mr. Rosen has the air conditioner in his van turned as high as it will go. He is parked at a strip mall outside a Long & Foster Real Estate office in Clarksville, Md., preparing to sing "Happy Birthday" to an unsuspecting employee there.
    First he must put on his gorilla suit.
    "I usually wait as long as I can before I put it on," he said.
    Mr. Rosen has delivered singing telegrams, often dressed as a gorilla, for more than 20 years.
    The gorilla suit is covered with black synthetic fur. Mr. Rosen, 46, slips it over his T-shirt, blue jeans and black socks and zips it up the front. He puts separate pieces onto his feet and hands and waits patiently for a signal from Steve Lenet, a real estate agent who helped orchestrate the high jinks.
    Gray shades are pulled down over windows in the van so no one sees Mr. Rosen make his simian transformation. He wants to preserve the surprise.
    "Secrecy is key," he said.
    With cold air surging through the van and the head of the gorilla suit resting beside him, Mr. Rosen explains that he pulls on the ape costume and delivers a singing telegram about four times a month.
    It supplements his primary business,, which he opened in 1986 and runs out of his home.
    Mr. Rosen delivered his first singing telegram when he moved to Chicago in 1983 to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology. He worked part time at the Crystal Balloon, singing and delivering balloons, while studying to become a clinical psychologist.
    He didn't become a psychologist, but when Mr. Rosen returned to the District, he opened his own retail shop. He has sold balloons and delivered singing telegrams since.

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