BONNERS FERRY — Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up a week early to Bonners Ferry, chauffeured by the Bonners Ferry Fire Department in one of their engines. The crowd awaiting them filled the Georgia Mae Plaza, spilling out and down the sidewalk.
“There are a lot of people here today that are anxious to see Santa,” said Stacey Frederickson, who came with her family and two grandchildren. “It’s exciting. It is nice to see so many happy kids.”
Santa hugged many children on his way through to turn the lights on for the Christmas tree that had been previously decorated by Santa’s elves and other helpers. After the gasps and smiles resulting from the brilliantly lit tree, Santa and Mrs. Claus made their way to the gazebo to await the children who took turns sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what they wanted for Christmas.
Awaiting the children after their time on the lap was hot cocoa, hot cider, and a gingerbread cookie. CJ Tuma of Coldwell Banker helped serve up the hot drinks that warmed up the children who may have gotten chilly while waiting for Santa.
Other people and businesses stepped in to help Santa and his elves, including the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce, Coldwell Banker North Woods Realty, Boundary Abstract, Auburn Crest Hospice, The Rusty Moose Tavern & Grill, Safeway, and Super 1 Foods.
Patrick LePoidevin was one of Santa’s recruits, helping with the decorating as well as passing out sleigh bells to children.
“I am helping pass out Christmas cheer to all the children of Bonners Ferry,” said LePoidevin with a smile.
The most important people during the event were the children. They were wide eyed, darting around decorations, eagerly awaiting their time with Santa.
“That for sure was the real Santa,” said eight year old Peyton Malizia after his visit. “His beard was real. Hope he brings me that nerf gun.”
Peyton’s three year old brother enjoyed the experience and told people afterwards that he got to see Santa and asked for a train.
“I think we have an amazing turnout,” said Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce Board Member Jennifer Van Etten. “We had the Polar Express movie at the Pearl at 1 p.m. and it was a packed house. There were no more seats. So that went very well, too.”
The cold did not freeze out the Christmas spirit as Bonners Ferry showed how a small town holiday is often better than the glitz and glamour of a big city.
“I think that it is special,” said Frederickson, as she awaited Santa with her granddaughter. “It is not commercialized like it is in other places.”
As the light faded, the colored bulbs cast a multitude of colors across beaming faces. Children ran around and parents chatted with new friends and old. Christmas is just around the corner ...