The 13th Annual Santa & Me at Las Piedras Park Santa Paula Police Community Building drew about 500 people Saturday, including 345 kids who wanted to visit with Old St. Nick and receive a toy to help celebrate the holidays.

13th Annual Santa & Me draws kids to see Santa

December 21, 2011
Santa Paula News

The 13th Annual Santa & Me at the Las Piedras Park Santa Paula Police Community Building drew about 500 people Saturday, including 345 kids who wanted to visit with Old St. Nick and receive a toy to help celebrate the holidays.

According to Coordinator Calla Dominguez, the event was one of the best ever. “We had a total of 498 people; 345 were kids and the rest were adults” who came to the park storefront, where “All the kids were able to say hello to Santa... and we either did a real good job of this or everybody was really behaving because it went so smooth,” in fact wrapping up a full half hour ahead of schedule.

And that was in spite of running out of toys: Sgt. Ish Cordero, president of the Santa Paula Police Officers Association that with the city and the SPPD sponsors the annual event, made a “toy run to Big Lots and then at about 1 p.m. someone showed up and donated a whole bunch of toys, all boys toys” such as action figures. “Everyone was delighted with what they got,” and the toy leftovers, said Dominguez, will be donated by Cordero to the Santa Paula Rotary Club for their Christmas Basket program.

Although this year there was not a photographer on hand - due to budget cuts Polaroid shots of each child with Santa were discontinued years ago - most parents, “about 95 percent, had cameras or cell phones with cameras,” although Dominguez took a few for those that could not capture the holiday image.

Santa Claus arrived in style riding in a brightly holiday decorated electric cart driven by his Chief Elf. Santa was City Manager Jaime Fontes, taking his first swing at wearing the red suit and white beard, and the Chief Elf was again SPPD Senior Officer Hector Ramirez. 

Dominguez said she had hesitated to approach Fontes to play Santa: “Then I thought, all he can say is no - but he was so receptive! And he was a really, really good Santa,” wearing a suit borrowed from Mayor Bob Gonzales, who with others has played Santa in the past. “Mr. Fontes was just a really, really good Santa... and a very tall one,” that the kids reacted well to.

Dominguez said Sgt. Jimmy Fogata and Ramirez “have been our staunchest supporters all these years,” and Citizens Patrol “again did a very good job - and the Explorers, they always do a very good job - all were a great help.” As was Dominguez’s Assistant Coordinator Jenny Bonilla, who “did all the paperwork... and each year there’s plenty!”

Noted Dominguez, “We had been looking forward to our 13th year... and we’re already planning for next year!”





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