Santa Visits Kids at Utica Post 229

UTICA, NY, Dec. 19, 2010 -- With Santa and his elves giving gifts to 75 children, Utica Post 229 was packed with some 200 guests for the annual Children's Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Christopher SenusThe children were treated to lunch, snacks, balloon hats and sculptures created by Ziyara Shrine clowns Chuckles and Ko-Ku, and a chance to personally chat with the red-suited Mr. Claus himself.

"Have you been good?" Santa asked each boy and girl. "Do you eat your vegetables and go to bed when you're told?"

Some were vigorous in answering, others were shy, but they answered "yes," and then told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. They could hardly wait for their turn, except for one 2-year-old who burst into tears as soon as he was placed in Santa's lap.

After Santa visited with all the children, a few of the older folk kept him from returning to his sleigh by lining up for a turn on his lap. They whispered in his ear and posed for photos. Three women even leaped on his lap together. It could not be determined whether Santa thought any of them were naughty or nice.

The party was sponsored by both the Post and the Auxiliary, with a number of volunteers from both helping out with setting up, cooking and serving, distributing gifts, and cleaning up.

"I would like to thank Berger King and Byrne Dairy for their donations; also, the ladies Auxiliary and everyone who helped make the party a success," noted chair Jim Haggerty.

Ricky and Katie Sahm show off their hats.

Ryan Fendsack and mom Lisa wave to Santa. LEFT: Christopher Senus shows off his spiral headgear.

Katie Winters poses with Santa.

Zacchary Eddy took one look at the red suit and beard, and thought, get me out of here.

Clown Ko-Ku fashions a balloon hat.