A sight to see

Com­bat Ra­dio’s an­nual Christ­mas event gives fam­i­lies in need a day to re­mem­ber

The Signal - - Front page - By Crys­tal Duan Sig­nal Staff Writer

The kids in line wait­ing to see Santa in the square be­hind Salt Creek Grille and the Ed­wards Va­len­cia movie theater on Satur­day weren’t be­ing too im­pa­tient.

Sure, the Santa was a sight to see. He was perched upon a large sled among pile af­ter pile of wrapped toys, pack­aged neatly in red and white and la­beled neatly by gen­der and age range, wait­ing to be handed out to chil­dren in need this hol­i­day sea­son.

But de­spite the long line that snaked all through the square, the kids weren’t count­ing the min­utes too much. They had plenty of other en­ter­tain­ment in the mean­time at the eighth an­nual Com­bat Ra­dio Christ­mas For So­cial Ser­vices event. In ad­di­tion to a free brunch served in the Salt Creek Grille restau­rant, kids could meet all their

fa­vorite movie char­ac­ters, cour­tesy of Com­bat Ra­dio pro­ducer Ethan Det­ten­maier.

Par­ents looked on as a squad of Ghost­busters, Spi­derman, Ariel, Dr. Strange, Stormtroop­ers and ro­bot-con­trolled R2-D2’s walked around tak­ing self­ies with ex­cited chil­dren.

Be­hind them, Jas­mine and Aladdin helmed a ring toss and snow­ball bas­ket game. Kiki from “Kiki’s De­liv­ery Ser­vice,” chased some chil­dren with a broom in her hand, while Cap­tain Jack Spar­row stroked his mus­tache as fam­i­lies filed out of the restau­rant, where they had been en­joy­ing a gourmet break­fast served from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“My fa­vorite char­ac­ter is Iron Man be­cause his suit is re­ally cool,” said Evan White, 6, beam­ing as he pointed at the Iron Man char­ac­ter walk­ing around.

“The food’s good, I’m happy I get to have an early present, and I got to meet Dr. Strange,” Damien King, 11, said ca­su­ally as he looked at his phone while wait­ing to take a selfie with the Marvel su­per­hero.

King and his mother, Ruby Vil­le­gas, had heard of the event through Hope Gar­dens, a home­less ser­vice in Syl­mar. The or­ga­ni­za­tion bussed its clients to the event early Satur­day morn­ing, where they joined over 500 fam­i­lies in need who were en­joy­ing the spe­cial event be­ing put on.

“My kids couldn’t sleep the night be­fore be­cause they were so ex­cited,” Vil­le­gas said. “It’s amaz­ing, it’s our first time here. And it puts a smile on ev­ery kid’s face and warms our hearts.”

Vil­le­gas’ daugh­ter, Alissa Vil­le­gas, was ex­cited be­cause, “I get to see all the princesses!” The eightyear-old squealed as she danced and held hands with Belle and Ariel.

Some fa­mous faces also came from Univer­sal Stu­dios to the Com­bat Ra­dio event. Mau­rice LaMarche, a voice ac­tor fa­mous for roles in “Pinky and the Brain,” “Fu­tu­rama,” and the an­i­mated “Ghost­busters” fran­chise, said he en­joyed com­ing out to see the peo­ple who were de­lighted to hear him re-en­act his char­ac­ters.

“I was a guest on Ethan’s pod­cast, and then I came out here to help hand out pre­sents,” LaMarche said. “It’s def­i­nitely been an honor to see so many peo­ple and I even got to be part of a trea­sure hunt. I’m a first-timer, but I def­i­nitely think I could do this again.”

Bruce Pas­tel, part of the biker gang the Mon­gols, also came out to hand out pre­sents, some gen­er­ously do­nated by the bik­ers them­selves.

“We’re all guys on mo­tor­cy­cles, and we’re just here to help,” he said. “Ev­ery­one por­trays us as th­ese big, bad guys, but we went out and bought our toys to come out to do events like th­ese. We love it. This year we got 25 guys to come, and next year we’re bring­ing 50.”

In the restau­rant, Salt Creek Grille man­ager Jen­nifer Chad­wick noted the event at­ten­dance had in­creased each year the restau­rant hosted it.

She’d been there when it first be­gan nine years ago. Each time, the restau­rant staff came to vol­un­teer their time to cook the food — which con­sists of eight re­fills of pan­cakes, eight re­fills of eggs, three re­fills of hash­browns, two of sausage and five of ba­con, re­cited Chad­wick’s daugh­ter Brook­lyn.

Brook­lyn, age 10, had been help­ing since she was 5. This year, she was once again hand­ing out hash­browns.

“I re­ally like it be­cause it’s so fun to be here, it’s a fun thing,” she said. “I like to see ev­ery­one smil­ing, and see th­ese kids get a real Christ­mas. And also, af­ter­ward, the princesses are also here and I get to see them and the kids play to­gether too!”

Cory Ru­bin/The Sig­nal

(Above) Com­bat Ra­dio held its Christ­mas event on Satur­day, which fea­tured Santa Claus and pop cul­ture char­ac­ters from films. (Be­low) Char­ac­ters from “Wall-E” and the “Star Wars” fran­chise made an ap­pear­ance at the event.

Cory Ru­bin/The Sig­nal

At­ten­dees of the Com­bat Ra­dio Christ­mas event walk nearby gifts that were given to fam­i­lies in the Santa Clarita Val­ley on Satur­day.

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