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Santa Comes to Town

As many as four hundred kids waited to tell Santa Claus what they want for Christmas.

With Christmas weeks away, Santa Claus and his North Pole crew at today.

Throughout the day, as many as four hundred kids waited in a line that stretched down an entire block, crossing Walnut Street. It took some dedicated children over an hour to get their moment with St. Nick and to deliver their present requests in person.

In the city hall lobby, Santa, Mrs. Claus and a few elves in red and green greeted their guests and had pictures taken on instant film.

Abraham Alfakhouri, who was hoping for a Spiderman toy for Christmas, suspected Santa’s beard had grown longer since last year. The best part of the holiday?

“Presents, definitely presents," Abraham said. "And toys.”

Some parents brought their one-year-olds, but most attendants were between five and eleven.

“The percentage of screaming babies is down this year, so that’s always a plus,” said Lisa DeMattei of the local Kiwanis Club, which co-sponsored the event.

Even one 47-year old, Jose Martinez, came with his wife and mother-in-law to get his picture taken.

“If you go to the mall, it’s $20 for the photo,” said Shali Tapia, in attendance with her daughters, Marie and Emily, “but here, it’s free.”

Each child also got complimentary hot chocolate, a candy cane and the peace of mind that Santa knows what to deliver on Christmas Eve. The event involved city workers from several places—police explorers volunteered to help with line control and photos, parking officials were instructed not to enforce meters, and the fire department closed the block between Maple and Walnut Streets for pedestrians.     

To much fanfare, Santa arrived in the morning in a shiny red 1916 fire truck from the . Several engines followed along behind him.

“The Santa age is the same age as the fire engine age,” said Matt Samson of the fire department. “So it’s sort of a two-for-one day for [the kids].”

Samson and other firefighters helped children climb up to the driver’s seat of the parked antique truck.

This particular Santa has been making his appearance for the past 30 years, and Mrs. Claus for 15 years. By the afternoon, they had a long list of requests to attend to.

When asked if they could deliver on the promises, Mrs. Claus said, “Absolutely. We’ll do our best.”

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