For weeks, the local media has been buzzing about Wee Chic’s Little Characters Search. An annual search to find a cast of real area kiddos to be the face of Wee Chic in their Fall look book.

The unprecedented response to this year’s search resulted in over 1000 submissions. How to narrow down all that cuteness? Well, thankfully, it’s not our job. That task lies in the hands of the selection panel.

{Note: We don’t envy them! Have you seen the entries?}

“We select the panel each year with an eye towards diversity,” said Bridget Stickline, owner of Wee Chic. “The selection panel is always comprised of people that call Maryland home and have a commitment to the local community. We like the mix of experience in print production, TV production and editorial work. We find that the different areas of expertise result in a truly eclectic mix of selected kids.”

In no particular order, we’d like to introduce the 2012 Little Characters Expert Panel:

Janelle Diamond
Editor, Baltimore Bride

When she was asked to be a judge for this year’s search, Janelle immediately joked “Does this mean I can’t submit my gorgeous kids?” {Trust us, they are gorgeous and they are characters! Check out Janelle’s (cool) progeny posts to catch the cuteness from Milo, Willa, Zeke and Gideon!}. Joking aside, the editor of Baltimore Bride was honored to be asked. Janelle describes the younger version of herself as a creative, awkward and loyal kid who craved let’s pretend games and choose-your-own adventure books. So does it come as any surprise that the adult version loves shopping on The Avenue and Gov’t Mules at Woodberry Kitchen? “Character to me has always meant what makes you you,” said Janelle. “I think that is so important to teach and I try every day to make my kids proud of what makes them different from everyone else. Everyone’s quirks and spirit is what makes them the best person they can be.”

Nicholas Griner
Photographer, Baltimore Business Journal

Curious, adventurous and carefree. That’s how photographer Nicholas Griner describes his ‘kid’ self. Well, that and a peanut-butter-cheese cracker aficionado. You’ll occasionally find him stealing those same crackers from two-year-old son Carson (his younger son, Cameron, is just about two months. Not quite up for crackers yet). “It took me a second to register that I was being asked to judge the competition,” said Nicholas. “When it finally clicked, I was surprised and honored. I think it has to do with my sleep deprivation. I do have a 2 month old, you know.” Nicholas seems to be a kid at heart. His favorite area restaurant dish? The grilled cheese with duck fat fries at Victoria Gastro Pub. As someone who’s no stranger to cute kids in front of the lens, Nicholas says he’ll be looking through the submissions for a “fun, energetic child who isn’t camera shy and is ready for the spotlight!”

Laurie Legum
Special Projects Editor, The Jewish Times

Laurie wouldn’t describe herself as an extrovert growing up… The once shy, inquisitive and creative kid who loved Charlotte’s Web and playing softball is now the Special Projects Editor at The Jewish Times. Mom to nine-month old Cooper, Laurie loves visiting The Baltimore Museum of Art. “As a child my parents often took me to the museum which helped me develop an appreciation for the arts,” said Laurie. “The BMA has always been a special place to me. I even got married there in 2010.” What is she looking for when perusing this year’s Little Characters submissions? Personality, distinctive traits and physical features.

Tim Williams
Meteorologist, WJZ-13

If Tim Williams could eat at any restaurant in the city tonight, he’d be noshing on the Seafood Paella at Mari Luna Latin Grille. The WJZ Meteorologist and dad to 16-year-old TJ is no stranger to characters. He describes his “kid” self as an imaginative talker with an affinity for Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies and playing with his dog. If he had a whole day now, though, Tim would play tourist in Baltimore. “The eclectic shops, the calming bay and unique buildings make it easy to lose yourself,” said Tim. Tim was thrilled to be asked to this year’s Little Characters panel because the candid photos are always a hoot. Kids just being kids. How does he define character? “Personality captured in a moment. Whether mischievous or whimsical, shy or boisterous, you have to appreciate a picture that grabs an image of a kid being a kid.

Can’t wait to share the 2012 Little Character selections soon! Stay tuned…