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"Santa" Wins Hearts And Smiles At Holiday PartyBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, December 17, 2006
North Adams - He made his grand entrance during a sing-along.
|"Santa" delivered great joy to most of the children who attended a Dec. 17 Rotary Club holiday party.
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Over 50 area children were belting out a third chorus of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" when the sound of jingling bells overcame the young voices.
With a series of "ho-ho-ho's," a chubby, jolly white-bearded fellow entered a decorated Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 124 hall and smiled as adults and children erupted into cheers and applause.
"I Want To See Santa"
Most of the children had been anticipating the visit since arriving at the Rotary Club-sponsored event.
Natalia, 4, said that she was very happy with her new jacket and a new toy.
"I can't wait for Santa to come," said 8-year-old Dakota as he sat at a table and munched pizza.
Kayleigh, 5, could not keep the smile from her face.
"Danny [Kayleigh's brother] doesn't like to sit on Santa's lap but I do," she said. "I want to see Santa."
The festivities were a revival of a Rotary Club party held on a yearly basis decades ago at the city's former Richmond Hotel. The event was an extravagant treat for low-income children who were often chauffeured to and from the event, said Marie Harpin, who attended the party as a child.
In 2000, Harpin suggested that the party be brought back to area children and this year's event marks the seventh time children have been invited to the special gathering.
10-year-old Kristen was among the party guests.
Rotary Club members from city and Williamstown clubs coordinated the party. Stephen Nary is president of the city Rotary Club and Maureen O'Mara is president of the Williamstown club.
"Marie came and spoke at a club meeting a few years ago," Nary said. "She spoke about the need. The club members decided to take it on as a trial and it worked out so well that we do this every year.This is the one thing we know we are going to do, the thing that everybody talks about."
Williams Inn employees prepared the pizza lunch and those enrolled at a Berkshire Family And Individual Resources day program volunteered their time to wrap gifts for the children.
BFAIR Executive Director Richard Weisenflue was among the party volunteers who served pizza and soft drinks to the children.
"It's fun and it's enjoyable," he said of the event. "It helps the community. I'm watching the kids' faces and it's just great."
OK, So What Comes After 'Fro-sty the Snowman..'"
Upon arrival, children were given bags of toys and the craft items necessary to assemble a small toy penguin. The first sing-along tune, "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" was sung with great exuberance but the next selection, "Frosty The Snowman," started out strong then faded as children and adults realized they did not all sing the same words in the same sequence.
Vocal confidence was restored with rousing renditions of "Jungle Bells" and "Up On The Housetop."
Dakota, 8, said he was very eager to see "Santa."
Included in the Santa-dispensed gifts were winter jackets for all the children. The gift assortment also included age-appropriate toys.
Gift Pick-Up Date
An outbreak of a flu-like illness and several cases of chicken pox is believed to have kept about 18 families from attending the party, according to party organizers Harpin said that those who missed the party may pick up their gifts on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the Post 125 post home on American Legion Drive between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m..
The gifts will not be held beyond that date and pick-up time, Harpin said.
Private donors and corporate sponsors support the party. Corporate sponsors included the Greylock Federal Credit Union, National Grid, West Oil Co., Flynn-Dagnoli, the Adams Cooperative Bank and Smith, Watson and Co. LLP.
Senatot-elect Downing Joined The Children
As the party progressed, children clamored to have their photograph taken with Santa Claus, show off some holiday dresses and other finery, and share their joy at the occasion.
Marie Harpin and 9-year-old MacKenzie lead a group sing-along during the party.
Senator-elect Benjamin Downing attended the event and spoke to numerous children and their parents.
"This is a great community event," Downing said. "It's a testament to the work the Marie [Harpin] and the Rotarians do."
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.