TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Not even Saturday’s below-freezing temperatures could deter people from coming out to catch a sighting of Santa Claus.
Arriving at Tahoe City in a North Tahoe Fire Protection District fire truck, Santa was greeted by a large, bundled-up crowd of children and adults. A similar scene greeted Santa when his plane touched down Saturday morning at Truckee Tahoe Airport.
“My favorite part is the look on those kids’ faces when Santa steps off that plane,” said Mike Barrett, safety coordinator for the airport, with his own face mimicking the children’s look of awe. “It all becomes real for them.”
After getting off the plane in Truckee, Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus and his elves, made his way to the waving crowd, handing out peppermint candy canes to a few waiting children.
“I felt really excited because I really wanted to see Santa,” said Ella Wismer, 6, of Truckee.
She and her siblings, Henley, 4, and Gray, 3, were some of the first to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas in a long line of waiting children and their parents.
Ella said she asked Santa for a new chapter book, while Henley asked for a musical toothbrush and Gray a new train.
In Tahoe City, Santa also took children’s gift requests as they sat on his lap.
“All the kids were so sweet and very helpful,” Santa said, while in Tahoe City. “They knew what they wanted.”
Popular items requested by older children were iPads and an Xbox, while younger children asked for LEGOs and dolls.
Despite Christmas being about a week and a half away at the time, Santa brought a few gifts with him from the North Pole.
In Tahoe City, teddy bears, Chinese checkers and other gifts were handed out. In Truckee, children received a tote bag with a story book, a coloring book, an airplane glider kit and an aviator wing sticker.
While Santa was the main attraction, families enjoyed other activities at the Truckee and Tahoe City events.
In Truckee, there was a craft room where children drew pictures and created Christmas countdown paper chains. Additionally, there was hot chocolate and holiday treats.
“This is kind of what makes living here great,” said Lacey Wismer, mom of Ella, Henley and Gray. “All these community and town events people come out for, and it’s such a festive place to celebrate the holidays.”
In Tahoe City, there was a free pancake breakfast with the sweet smell of syrup lingering in the air, music from the North Tahoe High Jazz Band, face painting and sledding, which elicited laughter and screams of delight from children.
“There is a sense of Christmas spirit (here), which isn’t always shared throughout the year, with presents, music, food and clothing — all for anyone who wants it,” said Roger Peterson, of the Tahoe City Rotary, a partner in Santa’s Party with the Tahoe City Public Utility District. “… It’s a feel-good event.”
After a few hours of festivities, Santa had to leave to return to his workshop in the North Pole.
But with Christmas Day just a week away, he’ll soon be back.
“I tell all the kids that I’ll see them in a couple of weeks,” Santa said. “… So get ready for me and make sure you leave a cookie out.”
“This is kind of what makes living here great.”