Santee’s Santa at the Lakes delights children of all ages

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“I love you Santa,” said 5-year-old  La’Miyah Gaytan. That, along with Mr. Bubble snow flurries, and Christmas tunes were all in the air at the 17th Annual Santa at the Lakes on Dec, 10 at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Gaytan just visited Santa  to take a photo with him, seated in front of a trailer, ready to hear her Christmas wishes. Fitting for an outdoor venue that encourages camping with trailers, RVs or the cabins by the Lake.

“I love you Santa,” said 5-year-old  La’Miyah Gaytan. That, along with Mr. Bubble snow flurries, and Christmas tunes were all in the air at the 17th Annual Santa at the Lakes on Dec, 10 at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Gaytan just visited Santa  to take a photo with him, seated in front of a trailer, ready to hear her Christmas wishes. Fitting for an outdoor venue that encourages camping with trailers, RVs or the cabins by the Lake.

“We have 60 volunteers, 30 staff members, and we usually have 5,000 attendees,” said Nina Tarantino, Park Recreation manager for Santee Lakes. “We were monitoring the weather very closely because of the Santa Ana winds.  We made the decision to go ahead with the bonfire.  We have staff monitoring it.”

Of the many offerings for the community was face painting. “She wanted Rudolph but getting paint on her forehead didn’t work so she got a penguin,” said Jill Farrell of El Cajon.  She—was her 3-year-old daughter Codi. Artist Judy Saldana, with Fun 4 Kids Entertainment said “We use hypoallergenic paint, FAB Face & Body Make-up.  Some (face painters) will use acrylic and that is bad for the kids.”

A mixture of six Shetland and Welsh ponies with names like Mishka, Tucker, and Pal offered up the opportunity to kids decked out in UGG boots, Christmas T-shirts, leggings, and Santa antennae headbands, rides around a circle. Crafts for the kids included making candy cane reindeer, cinnamon stick tree ornaments, and bird feeder pine cones. Carnival rides, snacks, hot dogs, and sledding down a snowy hill, courtesy of Pardee Homes, were all part of the over-all experience.

Storybook Island Character Meet & Greet provided pictures with well-known kid favorites such as "Star Wars" characters, Disney princesses, and Ariel the Mermaid.  Edwards brothers Elijah, 6, and Everett, 2, got to show off their "May the force be with you" stances with "Star Wars’" Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Marty Kimble.

“It’s fun bringing him out to play in the snow” said Rebecca Condon. Her son, Justin, 10 months, got his picture taken with a character and got to enjoy his first run in with snow.

The art of taking a selfie while sliding down the snowy hill seemed to be mastered by a father who was filming while holding his son in his lap. Many came just for the opportunity to ride an inner-tube down the slope.

“They came out cleaner than the went in,” quipped Jason Mulick of Alpine, who built a fan device that piped out Mr. Bubbles’ bubbles that was like experiencing snow flurries for the delighted kids. Mulick volunteered  his time and machine after he was spotted doing the same at the Alpine Christmas Parade of Lights and Snow Festival.

For more information visit:  www.santeelakes.com.

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