WILKES-BARRE — A snowy Saturday afternoon in south Wilkes-Barre provided the perfect seasonal backdrop for the annual Santa in the Park event held at Firwood Park.
Sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre City’s District A Fund, the event drew more than 300 adorers of the jolly red-coated holiday icon. They paraded to get their pictures taken with Santa, enjoy some fresh hot chocolate and cookies, get a complimentary hat and pair of gloves, gather up some toys for the children and feel like active parts of the local community, according to organizers.
Dave Lewis, one of the six volunteers from the non-profit District A Fund community organization, said the weather was perfect for Saint Nick and his helpers to visit. It bolstered the winter wonderland mood for the children who lined up despite frigid and blustery conditions.
“It’s all about the kids,” Lewis said. “This is not about promoting shopping.”
Lewis said the fund has been able over the last few years to raise more than$100,000, which they use to sponsor community activities like Santa in the Park and their annual “Party in the Park” held in the fall.
The fund pays for the community activities the city can’t afford, he said. The activities benefit the members of the community by letting them get involved in their neighborhoods and participate in positive activities for their children.
Besides the visitors from the North Pole, the event included the McCarthy Tire Christmas Train, festooned with colorful holiday adornments as it resonated carols for the crowd, a visit from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Tux mascot who offered free tickets for an upcoming game, members of the District A Fund and Wilkes-Barre City Council and a jamboree of excited children and their parents.
George Brown, city councilman who represents District A, said the fund members do an “exemplary job” all year long of organizing and funding community activities.
“They are a great team of volunteer community leaders,” he said. “I’m very happy to be involved with them.”
Brown and the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn provided the hats and gloves given out at the event.
The fund members got involved with the annual yuletide event last year, but Santa has been visiting Firwood Park each year for the last 42 years, Lewis said.