BERLIN - Families entered the building, went into a waiting room and then approached a room to meet the man with all the toys and his wife - Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“It was cool. We come here every year,” said Agnes Moryl, who brought her daughter, Ania, 7, and son, Jakub, 10.
The event was Santa’s Parlor, during which families could visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, put on by the Parks and Recreation Department Monday and Tuesday evening in the Community Center, 230 Kensington Road.
Encouraged to bring a canned food donation for the Berlin Food Pantry, families would enter a waiting room where movies - either “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” - were playing on a TV.
Cookies were also available, along with juice and pictures and books for coloring. Families could also bring dinner.
From the waiting room, one of two “elves” would get a family and take it down a hallway with pictures covered with Christmas wrapping paper, where the Clauses were waiting with presents and holiday music played.
Ania asked for an iPhone, Fingerling toys and a unicorn, prompting Santa to say, “Wow that’s a big list. ... You continue being real good and Santa will work to get you something special.”
Jakub was unsure what he wanted, prompting Santa to say, “I can bring you a bag of coal. You don’t want coal? How about a a bag of rocks? No? Well, I know what you want, so continue being very good.”
“I like seeing all the kids smile when they see Santa,” said Jessica Petit, 11, one of the elves on Tuesday night along with Rachel Karanda, 11.
“I like helping,” said Rachel.
The idea has been going on for 22 years, when Debbie Dennis, superintendent of recreation, started her work for the town.
“It’s something different,” said Dennis of the more intimate, private setting and one-on-one meetings with the Clauses. “It takes (kids) a little bit to warm up so this way people aren’t rushed to do it and they can go their own pace.”
At the end of the visit, children were given a candy treat and their choice of a small toy from a box. They were also given a coupon for one free book from the Friends of the Library, which sells used books to support the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library.
“Some of them really ponder over it. This is their big decision,” said Pat Baxa from the Friends. The books were mainly Christmas-themed, with a couple of Hanukkah titles as well.
“We thoroughly enjoy coming and visiting early for all the kids, and making sure they have their list down, what they want and making sure we can fulfill the orders,” said Santa Claus. “They’re all on the nice list. I haven’t had one on the naughty list yet.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @CPaullinNBH.