16th annual Santa at the Lakes

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Short sleeved T-shirt-wearing volunteers working the snow sledding ride helped the estimated 6,000 attendees enjoy the snow, known as Snow Hill, at the 16th annual Santa at the Lakes holiday event Dec.11 at Santee Lakes in Santee.

Short sleeved T-shirt-wearing volunteers working the snow sledding ride helped the estimated 6,000 attendees enjoy the snow, known as Snow Hill, at the 16th annual Santa at the Lakes holiday event Dec.11 at Santee Lakes in Santee.

Laura Koval, director of Parks and Recreation for Santee Lakes, elaborated on new features this year like Storybook Character Island. “We have meet and greets with characters like Olaf, Tinkerbell, Elsa and more,” she said. Koval also touted the new website for the lakes that is more user friendly to read about events like Santa at the Lakes. They also added more crafts for the little ones and more kid-friendly snacks.

Koval said they also hired a professional Santa and a professional photographer for pictures with Santa.

San Carlos residents Christine and Bob Ford attended the event for the first time, having learned about the event from someone at their children’s preschool. “It’s awesome,” shared Christine after watching their 2-year-old son Andy tube down the snowy hill. Older brother, 4-year-old Robby, and Andy got to enjoy the train ride, the dragon and more, elaborated Christine.

Carnival rides, crafts, a snowball station, hayrides, the Snacklebox food cart, holiday music and more supplemented the already kid-friendly playgrounds to add to the event’s appeal. 

“Keep turning it,” said 9-year-old Jake Johnson on the technique he uses to toast marshmallows to make a s’more. Denise Johnson said Jake has been attending this event for nine years.  Volunteer Heather Cantin, who was handing out the marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate squares to make the s’mores, said they had been through boxes and boxes of crackers at the s’mores station.

So what did Santa get asked for the most from kids? “Shopkins,” said Santee resident Byron “Santa Byron” Ball, with American Girl dolls, stuffed animals and trucks thrown in the request mix as well.

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