A visit with Santa | December 19, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Cover Story - December 19, 2012

A visit with Santa

Menlo Park families flock to annual holiday event

by Jane Knoerle

Santa arrived early for Menlo Park's annual Breakfast with Santa, held Dec. 1 at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, a popular local tradition since 2002.

More than 450 kids, moms, dads and doting grandparents attended the breakfast, which offered pancakes and sausages prepared by members of the Menlo Park Rotary Club.

Visiting Santa was, of course, the highlight of the morning. Maddy, 7, Kyle, 5, and Jake Chai, 2, stood in line to present their wish lists to Santa in his "throne room."

The kids were familiar with the rec center, said mom Sarah, since Maddy and Jake take gymnastics and Kyle plays basketball there. The Chais have lived in Menlo Park for about a year. "This is a great family place," said Ms. Chai.

Other Menlo Park newcomers making a visit to Santa were Robin and Ed Newman, there with son, Robert, 5, and the Lenihan family with sons Frank and Bob. Originally from Ireland, the Lenihans have also enjoyed the town's Halloween parade and the fireman's pancake breakfast this fall.

Hannah Silberman, 3, chose her own floor-length party dress to wear to see Santa. "She loves to dress up," said grandpa Don Albers, who accompanied Hannah, along with his wife, Geri.

Greta Cooney brought Finn, 6, Hayes, 3, and Charlie, 6 months, for their turn to sit on Santa's lap. "Santa recognized me," said Lia Gemmet-Young of Menlo Park, who said she'd been to Breakfast with Santa several times before.

In the arts and crafts room, students from Kuk Sool Won martial arts helped kids create red-nosed reindeer from candy canes, and fashion Christmas ornaments. Among those lending a hand were Garrett Pohlman, Max Kaufman and Alex King.

The breakfast was a big success, said Sandy Crittenden of Atherton, who donned a chef's hat and jacket to flip pancakes with other Rotarians. "This was the best year. This is the first time we had to go to Safeway to buy extra supplies," says Mr. Crittenden, who had been on kitchen duty since 6 a.m.

The breakfast was sponsored by city of Menlo Park Community Services, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, and Menlo Park Rotary.

Less fortunate children also benefited from the breakfast, with several families bringing toys for the firefighters toy drive.

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