Breakfast with Santa
While daughter Brynlee Dunbar, 7 months, checked out the hundreds of stuffed animals, mom Nikki Lewis thought about what would make the ideal gift under the Christmas tree.
“Since she can’t talk yet, I’m pretty sure Brynlee wants a new car,” Nikki said while laughing. “Perhaps a 2016 or 17 Honda CRV. They get good gas mileage and have a high safety ranking.”
The VanLandingham sisters, Katie, 7, and Holly, 6, came well-equipped for their visit with Santa. Even though they planned on mailing their letters to him later in the day, they brought them for good measure, sitting on Santa’s lap while he did a quick read. Katie wanted a new backpack, while Holly hoped for clothing for her American Girl doll.
While Tyler Michel, 4, told Santa he wanted a pirate ship (to go with the pirate he held tightly in his hand), younger brother William, 3, was preoccupied with a broken candy cane that he continued to try to piece back together. With a wide smile, mom Jennifer teased that all William wanted for Christmas was an unbroken candy cane. The boys, in “naughty or nice” tees, couldn’t fool Santa, who said he’s been keeping track all year, and they’ve been more nice than naughty. Mom nodded her head in whole-hearted agreement.
James Bethune, 3, came dressed in a red-striped cap, while his younger sister, Rose, 9 months, made for the perfect cherubic elf. Mom Katie said that James wanted a toy hot glue gun (because he can’t have a real one), and Rose needed some teeth. After selecting a stuffed animal, Rose didn’t waste a single moment before shoving the head of the Teddy bear into her waiting mouth.
About 542 children and adults attended Breakfast with Santa last Saturday at the Oakhurst Community Center. The annual event is sponsored by the Sierra-Oakhurst Kiwanis Club, who prepared the pancake breakfast, complete with ham, sausage and scrambled eggs.
Mountain Bear Fan Club donated 400 stuffed animals for the children to select from, and after breakfast and visiting with Santa, many children headed over to the Children’s Museum of the Sierras for secret shopping.
Santa wanted to let everyone know that his elves have been busy all year working in his North Pole toy factory, so he should be right on schedule, shimmying down chimneys Christmas Eve with that very special gift for all the good boys and girls. Still, no matter how good they’ve been all year, come Christmas morning, Nikki and Brynlee may be a bit disappointed that a CRV isn’t parked in the driveway.
By Morgan Voorhis / Sierra Star
Toys for Tots
This year’s Toys for Tots drive got a big boost Dec. 3 during the annual Toy Round Up in the Old Mill Village Shopping Center (Von’s) near the post office with a second toy collection event held Saturday at the Coarsegold Historic Village.
At the two events, community members donated more than 425 toys and more than $3,200 in cash and checks to help the cause.
Oakhurst resident Pat Burns made a generous donation. “I give every year - this money will be used to help the children in our area and that means a lot to the families that are having a tough time,” Burns said.
“All monetary donations and toys stay in the Mountain Area to benefit needy children and to assure they are not forgotten and that they share in the spirit and magic of Christmas,” said Dennis Osantowski, coordinator of the toy drive.
In addition to volunteers from Maine Corps League Detatchment 1121, others on hand to assist were from the Road Rattlers Car Club, Madera County Search and Rescue and Off Road Vehicle team members, Cal Fire, the California Highway Patrol, CHP citizen volunteers, and Marines from NAS Lemoore.
Restored military vehicles were also displayed by members of the community including Barry Beeson’s WWII Jeep and Aaron Hoffschneider’s Pinzgauer personnel carrier.
Yosemite High student Tori Rich has been volunteering hours for the toy drive as part of her senior project and was helping Saturday.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, directed by Heather Sconce will be performed at the Sierra Pines Church the weekend of Dec. 16-18, 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee.
Based on the beloved cartoon by Charles Schultz, this story is known and loved by all generations.
“From the little 4-year-old seeing it for the first time, to the grandmother whose lap she is sitting on, who has seen it every year as a tradition, this story is a staple in most households at Christmas,” Sconce said.
Follow Charlie Brown, played by Brandon Mallard, who everyone saw last year as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, as he is searching for the true meaning of Christmas. It seems that Christmas has become a big commercial racket. Even Charlie Brown’s dog, played by the enthusiastically funny Mark Friesen, has gotten in on the commercialism.
Follow other characters, Lucy Van Pelt (Gracie Robinson), Linus Van Pelt (Trevor Gann), Sally Brown (Peyton Riley), Violet (Amber Persson), and the rest of the Peanuts gang, as they try and explain Christmas to Charlie Brown.
“With a cast of 11 Mountain Area actors, we are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit with a smile and find out if anyone knows what Christmas is all about,” Sconce said. “You’ll have to come find out.”
With sets designed by Matt Van De Wal and this hilarious cast, those who attend the show are in for a night of family fun.
A Christmas feast will be served as the audience enjoys spending time with their favorite characters - Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Pig Pen, Sally and Snoopy.
Ticket prices for dinner and show on Friday and Saturday night are $18 for adults, $15 students (those 10 and under), and seniors. Sunday matinee with dessert and specialty holiday drinks, $12.
Details: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Feast on Friday and Saturday night shows. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., meal served at 6:30. Show will begin at 7:30. Sunday shows with holiday drinks from The Cool Bean Cafe and a delicious dessert. Doors open at 2:15 p.m. and drinks will be served at 2:30. Show will begin at 3. Tickets at charliebrownchristmastickets.com. Details: Sierra Pines Church, (559) 683-2882.
John Baker remembers as a child the large number of Christmas decorations his Monterey Park neighbors would put up every year.
“I always said that someday I would do a big Christmas display like that,” Baker said. “It took a while, but this year I’m doing it.”
John and Jill Baker have been collecting decorations over the past year and have been busy since Thanksgiving arranging them on the front yard of their house in the Indian Lakes subdivision in Coarsegold.
The display includes 35 inflatables, four large wooden figurines made by Jill’s daughter and her family.
The inflatables include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, reindeer, snowmen, penguins, candy canes, minions, and of course, Santa.
An electric forklift mechanic in Los Angeles for 30 years before retiring in 1995 and moving to Eastern Madera County, John said he calls his display the Indian Lakes Spectacular Christmas Display.
“This is for the kids in Indian Lakes and all the children in the area,” John said.
“We are at a point in our lives where we are really happy and we just want to share some of that happiness with everyone,” said Jill, who is a retired 14-year school bus driver whose route included the Indian Lakes subdivision.
The display can be seen by entering Indian Lakes on Picayune Road (417) to Delaware - make a left on Delaware which turns into Ottawa. The Baker house is on the southwest corner of Ottawa and Chickasaw.
For additional photos, see sierrastar.com.
By Brian Wilkinson / Sierra Star