Charlotte Drevenak, 1, enjoys candy given to her by Santa Claus at the District A Fund Committee’s Santa in the Park event Saturday. – Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Lukas Taylor, 1, reacts somewhat unfavorably to his visit with Santa Claus at the Santa in the Park event in Firwood Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. – Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — If you thought you spotted Santa Claus traveling down Old River Road on a Christmas train Saturday, you were not mistaken.
And, of course, a huge crowd of hundreds of children lined up on Carey Avenue to greet jolly old St. Nick.
The Wilkes-Barre District A Fund Committee sponsored the eighth annual Santa in the Park at Firwood Park, an event designed to give area children an opportunity to see Santa, receive a gift and warm up with some hot cocoa.
“It’s great to see so many smiling faces,” said city councilman Mike Belusko. “This is such a great event.”
He continued: “This event is centered around kids. Getting their photo taken with Santa, getting a gift, having a cookie and drinking some hot chocolate. And getting Penguins tickets.”
Some of Santa’s visitors were toddlers while others were older children. There were a few frightful tears when they met Father Christmas but many left with a giant smile on their face.
Ian Graham wore his Santa hat when he went up to meet the man from the North Pole. He left the encounter with a bag of candy, satisfied Santa knew exactly what he wanted under the tree come Christmas Day.
“I was so happy to see him,” said Ian, 7. “I told him I wanted a Mega T-Rex and new Nerf darts.”
Jaxon Pikul, 9, also had a few requests for the famous gift-giver.
“I’ve been coming to this event every year,” Jaxon said. “I told him I wanted a PlayStation 4 console.”
The boy also asked Santa to allow the Michigan Wolverines football team a chance to win a championship. (Mr. Claus can work magic, no doubt. But considering Michigan didn’t make the College Football Playoff, he might not even be able to pull that one off.)
The event that ran from 1 to 3 p.m. saw over 300 kids come out sit on Santa’s lap and take a picture before they departed with a gift.
“This is definitely a larger turnout then last year’s,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George. “And that speaks to what a great event this is because there was great turnout last year.”
The District A Fund, which is administered by the Luzerne Foundation, was created to support efforts to improve the quality of life for residents and promote business in South Wilkes-Barre.
The fund provides necessary services not paid for by the city.
Charlotte Drevenak, 1, enjoys candy given to her by Santa Claus at the District A Fund Committee’s Santa in the Park event Saturday.
Lukas Taylor, 1, reacts somewhat unfavorably to his visit with Santa Claus at the Santa in the Park event in Firwood Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
Jakob, 5, and Charlotte Drevenak, 1, visit with Santa at Firwood Park in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s Santa in the Park.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes