PPD’S Santa in the Park is Tues­day

Porterville Recorder - - COMMUNITY-FAVORITES - [email protected]­villere­corder.com

Santa Claus and his elves and rein­deer will make a stop in Cen­ten­nial Park on Tues­day, Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. dur­ing Porter­ville Po­lice Depart­ment's Santa in the Park event to en­sure ev­ery kid in the city gets a gift and a chance to take a pic­ture with him.

In ad­di­tion to Santa, the free event, which runs un­til 7:30 p.m., will also fea­ture Cantrell's mule and horse rides, candy canes, free bike raf­fles and gift bags spon­sored by the Porter­ville City Li­brary. Coun­cilmem­ber Monte Reyes will serve as the event's em­cee.

Thanks to Wal­mart Dis­tri­bu­tion Cen­ter do­na­tion, Augie Gon­za­lez, the chair­man of the event, said he's got around 35 bikes to give away this year.

Gon­za­lez said ev­ery kid will get a raf­fle ticket for free and will have a chance to win a bike.

Gon­za­lez said a num­ber of agen­cies also part­nered with the po­lice depart­ment to put on this year's event, in­clud­ing the City of Porter­ville and the Porter­ville Cham­ber of Com­merce. Spon­sors of the event in­clude the Wal­mart Dis­tri­bu­tion Cen­ter, Tu­lare County Dis­trict At­tor­ney's Of­fice, A New Leash on Life Dog Res­cue, Wal­mart, Pets­mart and Cal­i­for­nia CASA.

Gon­za­lez said the event will also fea­ture ap­prox­i­mately 500 do­nated stuffed an­i­mals for kids.

That, how­ever, may not be enough as Gon­za­lez pre­dicts there will be around 500 kids at­tend­ing this year's event.

“The event has grown tremen­dously,” Gon­za­lez said, adding that he is ex­pect­ing an­other large turnout of adults as well as chil­dren. “Last year I es­ti­mated that we had about 500 kids and maybe a to­tal of 2,000 peo­ple.”

Gon­za­lez said the po­lice depart­ment has put on the an­nual event for nearly the last two decades, and added that it has pro­vided less for­tu­nate fam­i­lies in the com­mu­nity with an op­por­tu­nity to have a Christ­mas.

“It is to get peo­ple in the hol­i­day spirit that may not have the op­por­tu­nity other­wise to get into that spirit and be in a Christ­mas en­vi­ron­ment,” Gon­za­lez said.

He added his fa­vorite part about the event is see­ing the smile on kids' faces and see­ing their par­ents over­come with joy and re­lief.

“Last year there were some very emo­tional and ap­pre­cia­tive fam­i­lies that ex­pressed their grat­i­tude that if it wasn't for this that they prob­a­bly wouldn't have had a Christ­mas,” Gon­za­lez said. “That was very plea­sur­able for us to see.”

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