EDNA – Katelynn Whittley’s green eyes sparkled as she ate her pancakes and recalled what it was like to meet Santa Claus for the first time. Wearing a red shirt that said “Nice List Goals,” Katelynn looked around the Jackson County Services Building auditorium at all the other children enjoying breakfast.
“He came down in a helicopter, and it was loud so I had to cover my ears,” Katelynn, 6, said. “But then he was really nice and meeting him was really nice.”
Katelynn was one of more than 100 children who attended the second annual Breakfast with Santa, hosted by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. Last year, the chamber hosted the event at its headquarters, but decided the event required a bigger venue after a successful first year, said Jessica Doelitsch, the chamber’s executive director.
Through sponsorship from local businesses, the number of children who were able to attend the free but limited attendance event doubled.
Children and their families had the opportunity to enjoy a pancake breakfast with milk, chocolate milk, orange juice or water; sit on Santa’s lap for pictures; and receive a goodie bag as well. Santa Claus also arrived to the event via an Airlife EMS helicopter, which the children loved, Doelitsch said.
“It’s great to see the children so happy and excited. The community really enjoys it,” she said.
When she had the chance, Katelynn told Santa that she wanted Calico Critters, a toy line of miniature animal figurines that live in a village, for Christmas.
Katelynn’s brother, Clayton Whittley, took his chance and asked Santa for $1,000. Clayton said the morning event was fun.
“If I had $1,000 ... Well, I could buy a lot of things,” Clayton, 7, said.
Their mother, Erin Rodriguez, said she was impressed with the event and would bring her children to the event again.
“This is wonderful. The kids loved it. It’s perfect,” Rodriguez, 31, said.
Over on the opposite side of the auditorium, 4-year-old Avery Vincik was enjoying the coloring book included in the goodie bag handed out to the children. Avery asked Santa Claus for a Barbie house for her numerous Barbie dolls.
“It was exciting,” Avery said about seeing Santa Claus.
Her mother, Valerie Vincik, said she, too, enjoyed the event and would bring her children next year.
“This is really great for the children,” she said.