15th Annual Santa & Me celebration held
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: December 25, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
There was a whole bunch of “Me” or rather “We” when dozens and dozens of volunteers made Saturday’s 15th Annual Santa & Me celebration one of the best ever at the Santa Paula Police Storefront/Community Building.
The event started with the traditional escort of low-rider motorcycles and classic cars that accompanied Santa Claus from North 10th Street’s Santa Paula Police Station to Las Piedras Park.
Bikers and classic car owners gathered at several spots including Rabalais Bistro & Bakery while others accompanied Jimmy Gomez of Santa Paula.
When Santa was fetched from the station sirens blared from patrol and Santa Paula Fire engines as the SPPD Dragoon made way for the Humvee carrying The Man With All the Toys. Following behind with a roar of engines and mufflers were dozens and dozens of motorcycles and classic cars.
The commotion turned heads and brought waves and cheers from motorists and pedestrians alike as the long procession traveled from the police station to the park where hundreds of kids were eagerly waiting.
“We counted 609 people and that included 403 children but so many people were coming in we just stopped counting,” said SPPD Storefront Coordinator Calla Dominguez, who initiated the event and has organized it ever since.
Santa and his Elf (SPPD Officer Hector Ramirez) were on hand to distribute the toys, some obtained just in the “Nick” of time.
Said Dominguez, “We had to make three toy runs,” during the event, even though escort participants had each donated a toy, “Some two or even three nice toys,” that were added to the previously purchased hoard of gifts.
The children lined up for a reassuring visit with Santa, a photo and a gift as well as some fun interaction with the Elf who Dominguez said this year was dressed in what “looked like a green tuxedo but had red and white stripped stockings, it was really cute.”
She noted the event was particularly touching because when children handicapped by chronic health conditions had their visit they would leave Santa, “With big tears in his eyes...”
There were plenty of Explorers on hand under the direction of Reserve Sgt. David Curran, the assistant coordinator of the Post as well as Community Service Officer Luz Oseguera and Cadet Martha Reynolds-Brown, who helped make toy runs and keep the event running smoothly. Sgt. Jimmy Fogata and his three children were helping to distribute toys, as was Police Chief Steve McLean and his family.
“Everybody,” said Dominguez, “knew exactly what to do...with the cooperation of Citizens Patrol and the Explorers I didn’t have to worry about how things were going, they knew exactly what to do and everything, as always fell into place.”
And that included members of the public that started showing support by stepping up a week ago in a most unlikely place.
“When we were shopping at Big Lots last week people were coming up to us and donating money for gifts...it made me feel so good that people would see us shopping and walk up and give us a $20 bill or a $50 bill. It was the first year that happened.”
Another first for Dominguez was her own feeling about the event: “I think this was the first year I really relaxed and enjoyed myself, had my big red antlers on so if anybody needed to find me they could just follow the antlers.”