Santa’s Polar Party continues as county favorite
HARPERS FERRY — The excitement over the annual Santa’s Polar Party event hosted by the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation was evident days before the actual celebration, as preregistration numbers topped last year’s record-setting numbers.
“We registered 300 children during preregistration and had to close the event to additional attendees,” said David Kling, assistant director for the parks. “We could not sign up any more and still guarantee a meaningful experience with Santa and the additional activities.”
The Polar Party began as the annual Christmas holiday event for the county park system four years ago, replacing the previous Lunch with Santa. The Polar Party expanded upon the lunch which included only the meal, a photo opportunity and a craft. The event now offers not only the visit with Saint Nick as well as holiday-themed craft opportunities, it also offers visits with multiple characters including the Grinch, Moana, Olaf and more.
While waiting for an opportunity to visit with Santa, children played on the moon bounce and slide, as well as taking part in a variety of activities that made the community center seem more like Santa’s workshop. Crafts and activities included decorating cookies, making baggies full of reindeer food to take home for Christmas Eve and writing a letter to Santa, to make sure he got the list correct. A special Santa’s Mailbox was on hand to collect the letters and to ensure their timely delivery.
After youngsters finished their letters, they could stop off at the gift station and receive a free toy, courtesy of the Charles Town Kiwanis Toy Shop. The Kiwanis joined in the Polar Party event to help spread joy to the young boys and girls by sharing toys that were part of their Toy Shop initiative.
“The Kiwanis partnership was a new addition for us this year,” Kling said. “It has turned out to be a great partnership opportunity and the kids are loving the toys.”
The Polar Party continued to offer Lego construction kits in the designated Santa’s Workshop area. Children could choose from one of four designs to create with the legos: a reindeer, a wreath, a Santa Claus or a Christmas tree. The stop was a popular one with the attendees, as they made their way around the gymnasium.
“This program has grown consistently year to year, and this is definitely our largest event,” said Becki Zaglifa, public relations and programming coordinator for the parks system.
A goal of the Parks and Recreation department is to provide quality programming to all members of the community and Santa’s Polar Party allows children and their parents to begin celebrating the season with fun, family-oriented activities. As the event continues to grow in popularity, the staff plans to re-evaluate and determine how to reach even more of the community while still providing a quality event.