Santa sightings

12/3/2012

Wish-lists get high-tech at annual rec carnival.

Wish-lists get high-tech at annual rec carnival.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Not only does Santa Claus bring toys on Christmas, but he also made an appearance at Santa's Christmas Carnival Saturday and Sunday afternoon at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

The carnival, held each year by the Garden City Recreation Commission, features a moonwalk, carousel, beep-beep cars, kiddie airplanes, a small roller coaster, swings, cotton candy, funnel cakes and visits with Santa.

According to Santa Claus, gone are the days for kids asking for toys.

"They all say 'We want iPods.' The majority of them have said they want iPods or iPhones," said Bill Pilgrim, who was portraying Santa over the weekend.

Pilgrim definitely looks the part of Santa, complete with his real hair and beard. He said that some of the kids are terrified of him.

"The little ones and some big ones, too," he said, with an authentic Santa laugh.

When it was 5-year-old Shelby Armstrong and her baby sister Emma's turn to sit on Santa's lap, Emma cried.

"She cried when Santa picked her up," Shelby said. "She doesn't know who he is yet. It's her first Christmas."

Darlene Holmes, personal trainer at the Garden City Recreation Commission who helped process the photo orders of Santa with the kids, said that the babies have no idea who he is.

"The older they get, they kind of come out of that, but see what scares them is this white beard and hair and ho ho ho," she said laughing.

Jessica Bosley, 17, and her sister, 23-year-old Mellisa Bosley, were Santa's helpers, dressed in elf outfits.

Jessica said that the kids were a lot friendlier with Santa on Sunday than on Saturday.

"He's getting a lot more hugs today. Yesterday he wasn't getting very many," she said. "One little kid yesterday cried when he left, though."

At one point, Santa winced after having a baby on his lap.

"I think he had a full diaper," he said, laughing in his jolly way. "The funniest thing that happened yesterday was when Mellisa brought up one of the children who had a wet diaper on, she was holding him like this and she says, 'Watch it, got a wet diaper.' So we both had a surprise."

When asked what she wanted for Christmas, 5-year-old Emma Banwell said she wanted a monster hideout, which she explained was a doll that's a monster.

"At least it's not an iPad," Santa said, laughing.

Brooklyn Gallardo, 6, asked Santa for a pink lava lamp and then made her way to the rides.

"I'm going to ride the one that spins around and the one with the red seats," Brooklyn said, referring to the Tubs of Fun and the Swing.

"We're going to go ride rides and get something yummy to eat," her mom, Ginger Gallardo, said.

With the purchase of a $5 wristband, kids had access to all of the rides.

Donna Gerstner, assistant superintendent of GCRC, said that the low price is made possible because of corporate sponsors.

For 25 cents, kids could play games such as plenko and frog launch, in which a stuffed frog is balanced on a teeter-totter type gadget that, when hit by a mallet, propels the frogs toward buckets.

Gerstner said the event usually draws about 3,000 people per day.

"Yesterday was crazy. We had tons of people here. It was a lot. It was packed everywhere. It took you awhile to get to Santa, to get to a ride, food — they were all over the place," she said. "Not everybody rides — like some of the parents, grandparents — but they have a good time, for sure."

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