Throngs greet Santa’s arrival



December 22, 2016 - 12:00 AM

Santa Claus and his white carriage drawn by a black horse, adorned with red and green lights, traversed the streets of Iola’s city square escorted by a parade of young kazooists Wednesday evening.
Swarms of children and their families stretching the length of the block greeted Santa’s arrival to his toy shop on Madison Avenue with a gleeful rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” More golden Christmas lights wrapped the trees on the courthouse lawn and lined the two-story skyline of Iola’s downtown.
Once inside Santa’s Toy Shop, children who had waited in freezing temperatures — many for more than 2½ hours — sipped hot chocolate and snacked on cookies and candy canes. After sharing their Christmas wishes from Santa’s lap, children received their choice of toy from the elf manning the toy shop’s shelves.
By the end of the night, more than 500 children and adults had walked through the toy shop’s doors.
Hannah Fleming, 9, left carrying a large stuffed teddy bear.
“I like the big things,” Fleming said of why she chose her present from Santa’s Toy Shop.
She asked Santa for a baby doll that pees. She also said she hopes it snows more before Christmas so she can make snow angels.
River and Reyce DeLaTorre, 7-year-old twins, also chose stuffed animals. River’s was a stuffed Pikachu from Pokemon.
“I like Pokemon,” River said.
He could not remember what Christmas gift he asked for from Santa. Reyce asked for a Hatchables toy.
Santa’s gifts were all donated toys. The toy shop will be open today and Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Some families also received boxes of food — complete with bread, milk, eggs, vegetables, sweet potatoes, desserts and certificates for hams and turkeys — and hats and gloves from Humanity House.
Ben Allen’s family of five received one of the food boxes.
“It will help great,” Allen said. “It will be a little bit easier. The kids love getting a toy. It will help us a lot — milk, eggs, bread — big necessities we need. Kids love getting toys; it’s a little less of a burden, you know.”
Humanity House bought the food using funds from the Reach Foundation and community donations through what Georgia Masterson, president of the board of Humanity House, called a “good deal” from Moon’s Hometown Market in Humboldt. The Iola food pantry also provided food.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do, give away stuff,” Cyndy Greenhagen, one of the Humanity House helpers at the event, said.

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