When Santa Claus asked 4-year-old Morgan Bennett what she wanted for Christmas, he was a little bit surprised by her response.
“I would like a big bag of rubber duckies,” Morgan said, matter of factly.
He was equally surprised by what he thought he heard her 9-year-old brother, Jason Bennett, say he wanted for Christmas.
“You want lipstick,” Santa said, prompting a slightly embarrassed and emphatic no from Alex.
“No, I want a Ripstik,” Alex said, explaining that it is a sort of scooter/skateboard.
Their 7-year-old sister was crystal clear about what she wants for Christmas — a dollhouse. And when asked what kinds of things she wanted her dollhouse to contain, she simply said, “dolls.”
Eight-year-old Hunter Goss brought his handwritten Christmas list to who he referred to as the “real” Santa.
“He wrote it out the other night and had it hanging on the fridge. So then when I asked him if he wanted to come to this and get his picture taken with Santa, he asked if he could bring his list. And we went to Walmart on our way, and Santa was there and he said, ‘I’m not taking my picture with that Santa because the real one’s at the Rec,’” his mom, Ashley said, laughing.
The Goss and Bennett families were two of the many families at the Garden City Recreation Commission’s Christmas Fun Day on Saturday.
It was just one of the Bennett family’s stops during a day filled with their own Christmas traditions. Their next stop was to go pick out a Christmas tree.
“We like the real ones, huh?” Rachelle Bennett asked the children.
She said that each of the kids also picks out their own ornaments each year.
“And this year, we have a toy train we’re going to do around the Christmas tree,” Alex said.
After getting a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus, played by Bill and Debbie Pilgrim, the Bennetts made their way to the games and activities set up in the GCRC gymnasium.
Brian Seagraves, GCRC arts director, said that the Christmas Fun Day was a variation of Santa’s Carnival that took place in previous years.
“We did away with the rides this year because the rides became cost prohibitive. They raised the cost of the rides, which effected the amount of money we’re bringing in,” Seagraves said. “Plus this year, it’s a special fundraiser for our kids going to Atlanta. So we decided to simplify it by bringing it here.”
The kids who are involved in the GCRC theater program are raising funds to attend the Junior Theater Festival being held next month in Atlanta.
“We had some amazing sponsors who helped cover the costs of the event, so all of the proceeds today are going to to the kids. Which is great, because we have 22 kids going, and it’s costing us about $1,000 a kid to get there. And then we have the adults — some of the parents are here working today because they have to pay their way. So we’re letting them in on a little bit of the proceeds.”
The kids going on the trip were helping run some of the game stations along with students from Kenneth Henderson Middle School’s Junior Leadership Corps.
“There’s Wiffle ball, ring toss, reindeer toss; there’s a football throw, golfing,” said eighth-grader and JLC leader Evan Allen Mader.
Students from Garden City Community College’s Art Club also had a station where kids could decorate clay ornaments.
“We’ve got a lot of community involvement, which is just wonderful,” Seagraves said.
Sophomore Hannah Lindo said that the art club students made the ornaments out of clay, using cookie cutters.
“And then they can paint it, and then they can use the ribbon color they want and we’ll tie that for them. There’s a little drying station back there, and then when they’re done playing, they can come back and get the ornament,” Lindo said.
The price for admission was $5, and there was also snow cones, cotton candy, popcorn and other snacks, as well as a rummage sale.
Seagraves hopes the funds raised will be enough to send all of his theater kids to the Junior Theater Festival, where they will have the chance to perform in front of Broadway greats.
“We’ve got kids who have worked up a little 15-minute cutting of this past year’s summer show, ‘Willy Wonka, Jr.,’ and they actually get to perform that for theater professionals from Broadway, universities across the country and other theatrical organizations. These are Broadway professionals who watch them and then give them tips and pointers and that kind of thing,” Seagraves said.
He is also hopeful that Saturday’s Christmas event can be just as popular as Santa’s Carnival and hopes to make adjustments and improvements to it every year.
“We’ll see how it goes, see what we can change next year. We always welcome feedback from the public to see what we can do better, what we can change, that kind of thing,” he said.