Mile-wide smiles and anxious little ones could only mean one thing on Friday night—the RiverWinds Holiday Celebration. The festivities kicked off at 6 p.m. in the community center’s lobby.
With the lobby of the RiverWinds Community Center decked to the max, local families began to pour in, taking part in the celebration and—of course—seeing Santa.
“We keep adding little things every year,” says RiverWinds Recreation Services Specialist Debbi Blaum, who coordinated the event.
Blaum explains that her father was the first Santa Claus in West Deptford, and recalls him visiting schools throughout the district. Blaum herself is a community member through and through as she has spent her whole life in West Deptford and is a West Deptford High School alum.
With her father retired as Santa for some time now, Blaum still keeps the spirirt alive, as the annual event is going strong after 10 years.
“It’s a family, that’s what we’re all about,” says Blaum about her community. “You can sense it.”
Kicking off the festivities were the Lake Bridge Boys. The band members are also members of RiverWinds—Blaum says they had approached her earlier in the season wanting to donate their time to the event.
Blaum admits that with only a small budget, the center is able to accomplish a lot. For instance, some archways were created by wrapping milk crates in foiled paper—one of the many handmade decorations that help to transform the lobby into a holiday bonanza.
Santa made his way through RiverWinds escorted by Mrs. Claus and Alexis Schlagle—reigning Tiny Miss West Deptford. Schlagle was awestruck when she met Santa prior to walking out into the lobby, but managed to ask for a skateboard on Christmas.
After Schlagle led Santa out to his seat, dozens of families lined up to get a chance to meet the man in red. In order to control the lines, families are given numbers and called up in sections.
While waiting for Santa, children had the opportunity to fill out a wish list and create their own reindeer ornament. In the auxiliary room, kids could even screen How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).
With children busy at the activity table, some adults even took in a little holiday music courtesy of Michael Boum, a student of West Deptford Little Theatre and a chorus 10 singers, also of the theater.