Hundreds of kids enjoy Santa & Me at SPPD Community Policing Building
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: December 28, 2012
There was a whole bunch of “me” at the 14th Annual Santa & Me celebration at Las Piedras Park, where almost 400 kids received a toy as well as quick visit with Old St. Nick on Saturday.
Held at the Santa Paula Police Department Community Policing Building, the program, said SPPD Sgt. Jimmy Fogata, “went really well... we had almost 400 toys, it was a real good turnout, a lot of kids who were really excited and glad to see Santa and his wife Mrs. Claus. It was a lot of fun.”
This year City Councilman Martin Hernandez was the Man With All the Toys and his wife Holly was Mrs. Claus. SPPD Officer Hector Ramirez again was Santa’s Helper and Chief Elf: “Hector’s our elf each year... he’s really brave to get in there and wear a pair of tights, he’s more manly than me!” Fogata laughed.
But first Santa had to get to the park, but not without an entourage of supporters. Fogata said SPPD patrol cruisers and support vehicles, motorcyclists, low-riders and others met at the Depot at about 10 a.m. for a “conga line” to the park.
Pastor Johnny Flores of Santa Paula Vineyard Christian Fellowship organized the “old cars and the motorcycles... and Santa and Mrs. Claus, who looked really great dressed up, rode in a GEM” electric vehicle, which afforded a great view of the seasonal couple who waved as the motorcade snaked its way north on Santa Paula-Ojai Road/Highway 150 to the park. Police vehicles with sirens wailing escorted the procession, with SPPD cars at the front and rear of the lineup.
Fogata said as the sirens from the motorcade reached Las Piedras Park, “Kids were all waiting, you could see their anxiety levels going up, they knew Santa was coming and they were getting restless.... And when Santa and Mrs. Claus pulled up the kids stormed them, rushed up and were shaking their hands, the kids were so excited.”
Calla Dominguez, coordinator of the SPPD Community Policing Building, “did a great job... we had a lot of support from a lot of people and all had a really good time.” And that included Fogata’s son, Ethan, 2, and twin 7-year-old daughters Logan and Malone, who “were helping to hand out toys and had a blast... we had Citizens Patrol, SPPD Explorers, reserve officers and full-time officers helping out with the hundreds of kids there of all different ages and sizes.”
Near the end of the event it became evident there weren’t enough presents for each child, but the spirit of the season kicked in - as did those who donated money, “about $100 for more toys so every child walked away with a present from Santa.”
Although Fogata said it started to rain “near the end, there were no problems; everybody was really excited, we had a lot of fun and a good turnout.... Soroptimist International of Santa Paula also helped,” with SISP President Heidi Juarez and some members on hand “wearing red Santa hats” and, said Fogata, “big smiles.”