Rick Barnett and his real Mrs. Pam Barnett, pictured above, have played Santa and Mrs. Claus for years. Posing with Santa and Mrs. Claus are (left) Alexis Angel and her cousin Lizzett Garcia. (Photo by Brian D. Wilson)

Santa visits Santa Paula children during Community Center stop

December 12, 2012
Santa Paula News

Some cried, but most giggled and whispered in Santa’s ear Friday when the Community Center opened its doors for its annual visit from Old St. Nick. According to Interim Recreation Supervisor Nicole Sliger, “We had a really good turnout... about 170 families and probably over 300 children” who visited with Santa and then enjoyed some arts and crafts.

A few visitors were a little leery of the Man With All The Toys: “There were a few kids that were crying, but their parents,” at staff’s urging, positioned the reluctant behind Santa so they could watch him with the other children. 

It worked: “They were okay after that,” although Sliger admitted some infants still weren’t buying the red hat and white beard, or any ho-ho-ho either. But even the crying infants made for cute photos, Sliger noted, that several said would be cherished family keepsakes “for years down the line.”

Although Community Center staff used to take individual photos of each Santa lap-sitter, this year they took family group photos. “We used to do the individual photos, but it took all night” to print them, then turn families loose to visit a special area where they were provided with art supplies to make a family portrait stocking. 

When the even was over, Sliger and other city staff as well as volunteers had their own private visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, played for years by Rick Barnett and his real Mrs. Pam Barnett. “Every year we take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus afterwards; it’s a tradition for us to take a picture at the end when everyone is gone,” Sliger said.

“Did I tell Santa anything special I want for Christmas? Noooo, not this time,” but, noted Sliger, “I guess I can send him an email!”

She said the next visit for Santa will be for the young at heart: Santa Paula’s senior citizens are invited to a luncheon Wednesday where Vista Cove will provide a Santa. The lunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Community Center, 530 E. Main Street.

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