For 16 years, the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation has welcomed children to enjoy Lunch with Santa. The event, which was originally held at the War Memorial Building, now takes place at the Jefferson County Community Center at Sam Michael's Park.
On Saturday, scores of children and their parents gathered for the annual event which offered some new twists.
Santa arrived, with Mrs. Claus and several of their friends including the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, the Chick-Fil-A Cow and "Chippy," the parks mascot, atop the Bakerton Fire Truck. Volunteers with that company were excited to have the opportunity to deliver the guest of honor and his friends to the long-awaited lunch. The event, which had been scheduled for Dec. 14, was postponed due to inclement weather.
The change did not diminish the turnout as children gathered to make crafts, enjoy lunch from Chick-Fil-A and have photos taken with Santa. Laughter and whispers could both be heard coming in turn from those sitting on the old gent's lap to ask for special toys or simply be in awe of the famous figure. Cameras snapped photos of smiles, and some tears from those not quite so sure about the whole affair, and each child was awarded an ornament with their photo with Santa placed inside.
Following lunch or while waiting to take a turn with Santa, children enjoyed the moon bounce and took time to create one of many crafts available. Ornaments, coloring pages and much more could be found at the craft center within the gymnasium at Sam Michael's.
Executive Director Jennifer Myers was very pleased with the turnout. Despite the change in date, she indicated that attendance was well over 150 kids.
"Partnering with Chick-Fil-A to provide lunch was a huge success," she said. An order for additional sandwiches showed that parents appreciated the change in fare as well.
Myers said that the Lunch with Santa event is one of several geared toward total community involvement. The department also hosts a Breakfast with Easter Bunny and many more programs. Coming up early in the year is the annual Father/Daughter Dance, she said. For more information on all events and activities offered by the Parks and Recreation, visit www.jcprc.org or call 304-728-3207.