Traditional visit from Santa Claus continues next weekend
Published 11:20 pm Friday, December 9, 2016
Santa may not be flying in on his sleigh, but seeing him riding atop a fire engine can be just as exciting — just ask the children who live in the Openwood subdivision.
Santa has been making visits through the neighborhood for quite some time, and this year will mark the 40th anniversary of Santa’s visit to Openwood, which is sponsored by the Openwood Garden Club.
“Originally, the members held an Open House at the Openwood Country Club and invited residents to come for cookies, punch and a visit with Santa,” club member Miriam Jabour said.
Email newsletter signup
A few years later, the club decided it was time the jolly old elf became mobile in an effort to make sure as many children as possible got a visit with him, hence during the late 1970s the garden club president became St. Nick’s chauffeur — driving him through the subdivision on a golf cart to visit with all the children.
“And there was always candy for all and each child had an opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap,” Jabour said.
Santa’s ride was upgraded in 1990.
“The garden club was working on a project with the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department to gather information to help them in case of a fire in the subdivision, and they asked if they could help with this Christmas event,” Jabour.
And ever since, she said, the fire department along with a deputy from the Warren County Sheriffs Department have escorted Santa around the subdivision making scheduled stops along the way.
Santa’s new ride was especially exciting one year when the weather decided not to cooperate with the event.
“It rained and stormed that day and the fire department asked if we still wanted to do it,” Sylvia Gurtowski said.
Gurtowski, also an Openwood Garden Club member, is serving as the committee chairman for this year’s Santa’s visit to Openwood.
“Santa never misses Christmas,” Gurtowski said, “so we decided to still do it.”
Ironically, the inclement weather only added to Santa’s visit with the children, she said.
Not only did the children get to visit with Santa, they got to crawl up in his lap while he was sitting in the big red fire Truck.
Gurtowksi said the Openwood Garden Club is indebted to the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department and the Sheriff’s office.
“We could not do this without them,” she said.
Santa’s visit to Openwood is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at the corner of Newitt Vick Drive.
He will then make five stops, which will include one at Newitt Vick and Jil Marie Circle, Newitt Vick and Fairways Drive, Newitt Vick and Club House Circle and Fairways Drive and Pebble Beach.
Santa’s final stop will be at the Landings Apartments by the office and mailboxes, Gurtowski said, and his estimated time of arrival is 3 p.m.
“We never know how many children will be at each of the stops and Santa never rushes with any of the kids,” she said.
In honor of this year’s 40th anniversary, Gutowski said Santa would also be bringing a little something extra for the children.