By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS HOLLOW — With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, Santa Claus was able to take time out from his busy schedule to pay a visit to the Coeymans Hollow firehouse.
More than 30 kids turned out for the annual Lunch with Santa event Dec. 2, where they enjoyed chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and Christmas cookies. They also did holiday-themed arts and crafts, and wrote letters to the Jolly Ol’ Elf, which were delivered to the North Pole, of course.
After lunch the magician Kapt. Kraw entertained the kids before Santa arrived for photos and to hand out gifts.
“We have been doing Lunch with Santa for 15 or 16 years,” said Jack Dennis from the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Corp. “It’s for the community. It feels great — kids are a big part of this community and they love this time of the year.”
Members of the fire company’s Auxiliary prepared the food, and the event was paid for with donated funds.
“It is paid for through donations to the calendar drive,” Dennis said. “We use that money to do community events like this.”
The fire company did not do a calendar drive this year due to a shortage of volunteers, and instead sent out a letter to community residents asking for donations and to recruit new volunteers.
But Lunch with Santa was all for the children, Auxiliary member Mary Ann Dennis said.
“The kids love this,” she said. “This is all for them.”
The event was open to kids ages 10 and under who live in the Coeymans Hollow Fire District. Each child received a gift and a visit with The Big Guy, whose arrival was heralded by one of his trusty elves.
“The kids get to pick what they want,” Mary Ann Dennis said. “Santa has four sacks of toys arranged by age, and the elf will empty the sacks onto the floor and the kids can pick what they want.”
Jameson Parker brought his two kids to Lunch with Santa and said the whole family had a good time.
“This is nice,” Parker said. “Getting a photo with Santa at the mall costs more than $100.”
Caitlyn Cordero’s three kids also enjoyed the day.
“I love this event, and the kids are having a lot of fun,” Cordero said.
Autumn Wells said her kids were having a great time and it beats going to a busy mall to visit with St. Nick.
“This is so much easier than going to the mall to see Santa,” Wells said. “The kids like the food and doing crafts, and they are looking forward to seeing Santa.”