Joining the elves late was Baltimore County Public Schools teacher and former Rocket to Venus employee Kristin Tornabene, 33, of Parkville.

"What better way to get involved and do something for the community — and act kind of goofy? It's perfect," Tornabene said.

On Chestnut at West 36th, they popped into several stores briefly, including the children's boutique Mono Azul, where Jeanne Dibattista told them, "I just worry about you because you don't have any warm clothes on."

They also stopped into the oddities and curiosities store Bazaar to meet a man dressed as Krampus, the mythological creature who punishes naught children at Christmastime. Then they headed onto The Avenue, where the stopped into more stores and the restaurant Alchemy, where they serenaded diners with a hearty, "We wish you a Merry Christmas ... and a happy new year."

Alchemy co-owner and "chefette" Debi Bell-Matassa said she preferred the elves to Santa.

"We can place eight elves easier than one Santa," Bell-Matassa said. "They're sprightly. Elves are festive."

On Saturday, joined by several more elves, the squad regrouped at the coffee shop Common Ground at noon, then sauntered through the snow, and soldiered on when it turned to rain.

"That wasn't so much fun," Leasure said.

They were back again on Sunday, enjoying the sunshine as they stopped into more stores, including the ice cream parlor The Charmery, where they held an hour-long face-painting session for children.

"I love it," said former Hampden resident Chandler Morse, now of Cedarcroft, watching as his daughter, Talie, 5, got her face painted. "It's spreading the Christmas cheer."

Morse turned to his son, Parker, 7, and asked, "Do you think the elves came from Santa?"

"Definitely," Parker said.