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Annual Breakfast with Santa draws hundreds to Vicksburg Convention Center

It might not have been the size crowd that normally flocks to see Santa Claus each year, but the annual Breakfast with Santa event at the Vicksburg Convention Center continued a Vicksburg tradition nearly two decades in the making.

With a revamped schedule and drastic changes to meet strict social distancing and safety guidelines because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the convention center staff was able to accommodate more than 200 guests.

“Honestly, it’s more important than people realize that this event was held this year,” Vicksburg Convention Center Executive Director Annette Kirklin said. “I was part of the first one when I first worked at the convention center. It is just special and important that it carries on. We have had so many people come through and tell us that they remember coming to Breakfast with Santa when they were children and are now bringing their children.”

Instead of craft stations and games set up throughout the large exhibition hall, the event featured the traditional sit-down breakfast provided by McDonald’s, a socially-distanced experience with Santa Claus and a bag of crafts that children could take home and complete.

In fact, some of the changes brought about by the pandemic, Kirklin said, may stay for future events given how smooth everything operated Saturday.

“The change where we deliver the breakfasts to the table rather than have everyone line up might be a permanent change,” Kirklin said. “It worked really well and seemed to be easier on everyone.”

Kirklin said some of the changes also got the seal of approval from the event’s headliner — Santa Claus.

“Everyone was really pleased. We had everything socially distanced, families sitting at separate tables,” she said. “Santa loved the set-up. He said it was better than he could have imagined.”

Kirklin said 220 tickets were sold. In previous years, the event would attract nearly 700.

Proceeds from the event will be presented to Ronald McDonald House, but Kirklin said it would be about a week before they knew how much was raised.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mississippi supports the well-being of children and families through programs that give comfort, compassion and care.

The house is located on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The house serves as a home-away-from-home for families who have children receiving specialized medical care throughout the Jackson area.

The event is sponsored by McDonald’s, Walmart, Mutual Credit Union, Terry Service Inc., Golding Barge Line Inc., Hometown Medical, WaterView Casino, Home Depot and International Paper.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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