Photo by Joe Boyle
Santa Claus talks to youngsters who drove by with their parents during the "You're the Parade" Santa Visit event Monday night at the Evergreen Park Community Center. Due to COVID-19, Santa greeted families from his wagon a safe distance away.
By Joe Boyle
Neither rain, snow or even a pandemic can stop Santa Claus.
The coronavirus has altered the social landscape this past year. However, St. Nick was still able to greet children and parents, with the help of a little social distancing.
Residents of Evergreen Park took part in the "You're the Parade" Santa Visit event Monday night in the parking lot of the Evergreen Park Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.
Parents and their excited kids took part in the parade that drove slowly by Santa, who waved to them from a wagon with a Christmas tree. The Evergreen Park Public Works Department helped to organize the event and served as guides for motorists who entered the parking lot. They also helped to lead them out.
"Are you being good this year? I want you to leave some cookies and milk for me on Christmas Eve," Santa told the children and parents who drove up in front of his wagon.
Families drove by at a consistent rate during the three-hour event. The weather was near 40 degrees with a blowing wind. A slight drizzle did not deter Santa and his helpers on Monday night.
Santa took a few minutes out with each family that pulled up in their vehicles to ask what the kids want for Christmas.
While the annual event usually consists of Santa greeting the youngsters on a chair while they tell him what they want, this year changes had to be made because of COVID-19. Kids talked to Santa from their vehicles a safe distance away.
"I think everything has gone pretty well," said Karen Sexton, a program coordinator for the Evergreen Park Recreation Department. "We've had a lot of people come out."
Sexton, Jill Lynn, the other program coordinator, and other volunteers passed out treats to the youngsters who came to see Santa. The volunteers loaded up on goodies to pass out. They also provided holiday music that could be heard from several speakers.
Parents who drove by were appreciative of the efforts of the Evergreen Park Recreation and Public Works departments.
"It gives the kids something to do and they were excited to be here," said one parent. "it gives them a sense of normalcy leading up to Christmas. I'm glad they did this."
The volunteers agreed that the You're the Parade was a success but hope that next year Santa will have a chance to interact with families and the kids like he has in the past.
"But either way, the kids were still excited to see Santa," another parent said.