BRATTLEBORO — Traditionally Santa is known to use his red sleigh as a form of transportation, but this past Saturday afternoon he showed up Vermont style – on a tractor.
Members of the Brattleboro Union High School band performed holiday songs as hundreds of children awaited Santa's arrival. Songs like "Santa's Coming to Town," built the anticipation for many children until they could see him riding up the street from West Brattleboro to the Gibson Aiken center with his friends Frosty the Snowman and Brattleboro's very own, Alfred the Elf.
"This has been an ongoing tradition for well over 40 years," said Carol Lolatte, director of the Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department. "With Santa coming, we have a lot of kids waiting, so we have a great event here for them."
Santa was fashionably late, but the kids did not seem to mind once they were in the presence of holiday cheer. Children lined up to sit on Santa's lap, pose for a picture, receive a candy cane and tell him what they want for Christmas. Others doused gingerbread men in green or pink frosting donated from the Vermont Country Deli and completed these masterpieces with sugary toppings, such as M&Ms, sprinkles, gummy bears and worms, Skittles and Snowcaps. The Gingerbread men were made by the culinary class from the Windham Regional Career Center.
"My favorite part of this event is making sure the cookies are tasty enough to be served. I have to test them the day before the event," said Lolatte with a laugh. "All joking aside, it's just really great to see the kids coming together for a family event like this."
Some children feared the unfamiliar man with the long, white beard, but fortunately, the recreation center provided the children with the opportunity to write a letter to him if in person was too intimidating. Windham Regional Career Center students from Future Business Leaders of America assisted the young ones with their personal letters and explained their station to parents and visitors.
"We're selling personalized Santa letters, so each letter is unique," said Sarah Forrett, a student of Future Business Leaders of America(FBLA). "What it does is help us raise money for our competition trips."
One of the trips, involves a spring conference where the students compete in different business events, such as marketing and speech and presentation. According the FBLA students, Santa should expect a lot of Disney theme and Lego requests this holiday season.
Frosty and "Elf Alfred," greeted some of the children as they sat with Santa or moved in between activity stations. Each child was welcome to take home a gingerbread man, a Polaroid photo with Santa and Elf Alfred, and a coloring sheet if they participated in that activity. Photos were taken by Julie Houle of Maple Lead Photography.