The atmosphere was festive and expectant for Breakfast with Santa, December 17, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., in the multi-purpose room of the Santa Clara Senior Center, 1303 Fremont Ave. Some 125 children, parents and grandparents enjoyed a pancake and sausage breakfast, all the while keeping an eye out for the main attractionâ€”Santa carrying his signature red sack of gifts and accompanied by two elves. They arrived, presumably from the North Pole, at 9:30 a.m.
Holiday music filled the room, which was colorful with decorated holiday trees, poinsettias and evergreen garlands with red bows. The breakfast tables had red coverings and giant lollypop centerpieces filled with small candy canes.
“Breakfast with Santa is a family tradition. Some kids have been coming for years. We see familiar faces. And now as teens, some come to help,” said Supervisor Susan DiatteÂ with the Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department, which sponsors the annual event. “It fills up every year.”
The Rodriguez family from Santa Clara comes every yearâ€”parents MaryLynne and Nelson with their children, LillyAnne (8) and Junior (6), and the children’s grandparents, Laureen and Edward Garcia.
“We’ve been doing this every year since LillyAnne was one,” said MaryLynne.
“I’ve been a good girl, but I don’t know about my brother,” said LillyAnne, who wants Santa to bring her Star Wars Legos.
“I’ve been a good boy. I help Lilly clean up her toys,” said Junior, who hopes Santa will bring him Super Mario Land game plastic toys. “I want to say one last thing. Lilly is nice.”
“To participate like this with the community is kind of a rarity nowadaysâ€”to know your neighbors,” said Nelson.
The breakfast is by reservation only for infants through elementary school-age children and their families. Sadly, some who did not pre-register had to be turned away at the door.
The admission cost covers breakfast, a small gift from Santa, a photo with him to take home, and simple craft projects such as making a holiday necklace and tree ornaments. The excited kids get a stamp on their paper “passports” for every craft they make.
In a tradition of community service for the holidays, the Santa Clara High School Athletic Boosters prepare the breakfast each year. The Wilcox High School Cheer Team helps set up, serves breakfast and assists with the crafts. Miss Santa Clara Teen 2016 Ashley Santos chatted with families as they lined up to talk to Santa when she announced their numbers.
“We love this event. Everyone is just so happy. The kids are dressed in holiday clothes. It’s great that we can provide families with a stress-free event,” said Diatte. “The kids are either eating, doing crafts or talking to Santa.”
“It’s become a great tradition for us even though we don’t celebrate Christmas. We’re Hindu,” said Pooja Chauhan, who was coloring her breakfast placemat with her daughter, Tia Nilaver (6). “The pictures of her and me with Santa are great because we see how she grows every year.”