Goliad's Santa opts for longhorn in place of Rudolph (video)
Video: Santa comes to Goliad
Nine-year-old Emi Smith was excited to see Santa arrive at the 29th annual Christmas in Goliad on Saturday.
But mostly, she said, she was excited by his untraditional ride into town - on a Texas longhorn steer.
"I've never seen Santa come in on a longhorn; it is just different. Normally, he walks in or something," said Emi, not really able to explain where the trusty reindeer were for the day.
Instead of lining up to see Santa, Emi, of New Braunfels, and her 8-year-old brother, Quinnon, waited to sit on the steer.
"It can be scary because of the horns, but it can also be fun because I like animals and they are really sweet. ... He was nice; he was really calm. I wasn't scared," Emi said.
The opportunity to see Santa on a longhorn was even cooler because she just got a longhorn calf of her very own for Christmas.
"They are just die-hard UT fans," their grandmother, Linda Smith, of Goliad, said about why she purchased the 350-pound longhorn calves for the kids.
Emi said she decided to name her little girl Jingles and Quinnon said he will name his Joy, both in honor of Christmas.
"They live in New Braunfels, and I own this ranch out here. My son wanted them to have the country experience as well as the city experience growing up," Smith said. "When they are here, they feed them and take care of them. It is part of learning and living out in the county."
Ruben and Liz Zermeno, of Houston, also came to Goliad for the Christmas celebration to visit family - and to teach their daughter the values of small-town life.
"Kids have more freedom here, and you are more comfortable with them having that freedom," Ruben Zermeno said.
He said they have been coming to Christmas in Goliad for the past 20 years, always careful to leave Houston early enough Friday to see the lighted parade.
In those 20 years, Ruben Zermeno said the event has grown, but not changed.
"That is the beauty of it. It is a small town atmosphere - the way I describe it to my friends is a setting you see in a family HBO movie where the kids are running across the square and the parents are all associating with each other. It is something you can't do in the big city," he said.
Their 14-year-old daughter, Arielle Zermeno, said she doesn't remember a year the family failed to come and can't imagine ever growing out of it.
"I love coming. I always ask to come. I get to see my grandparents, and it is just so small around here, and I'm used to the big city," Arielle said.
Arielle said she loves the shopping on the square because the booths are original and artsy. But she said she also loved the new ice skating rink.
Bridgette Bise, Main Street director, said they added the synthetic ice skating rink for the first time this year.
"I felt ... it would be great if we could add another element that is something kids could do and would provide a hands-on experience and would go along with the theme of the event," Bise said. Children skated in 83-degree weather.
Christmas in Goliad, organized by the Goliad Historical Commission and Goliad Chamber of Commerce, was Friday and Saturday and also included events at Presidio La Bahia, book signings and choral groups.