Irving — The Las Colinas Association (LCA) hosted a drive-thru Santa experience at John E. Singley Academy on Saturday, Dec. 5, so families could share in the joy of the holiday season.
“We had [the event] in two shifts,” Candace Emerson, director of community relations and marketing, said. “We still have soccer season, and we still have ballet. Our primary audience are kids from the age of one to 12, so you still have a lot of those extracurricular activities happening.
“We’re finding different ways and different opportunities to connect with our community and our members, so we developed a concept of a drive-thru concept with Santa. With the [COVID-19] numbers being so high right now, we wanted to host a socially distanced event, keeping everyone safe. It worked out wonderfully.”
“This event is a chance to share in the holiday spirit like every other family,” Irving resident Susan Siwy said. “We have an autistic child who cannot handle the normal Santa pic chaos. This was a safe alternative due to the pandemic. It was also memorable, and it gave us the opportunity for our child to see Santa in-person.”
“It was a wonderful break from our current pandemic-induced mundane schedule,” Amanda Jules said. “Seeing so many people there on a Saturday morning, trying to make other people smile, was great.”
Part of the experience was a donation drive for Irving Cares.
“Our next stop as you drive through is our toy drive benefiting Irving Cares,” Emerson said. “We have asked attendees to bring a new unwrapped toy to donate, and as part of the donation, they are entered into a raffle for prizes.
“To be able to partner with Irving Cares for the unwrapped toys and the monetary donations, that’s what it’s all about. Seeing the smile on the kids’ faces and to see excitement and the gratitude from the parents as well, that’s really what it’s all about, making our members happy and seeing the smiles on their faces.”
Kitchen 101 offered a variety of hot chocolate options from their food truck. Families were also treated to a cookie kit gift.
“We have three different hot chocolates, and with this being themed toward a 50s-style diner, they went with a car theme on everything,” executive chef Klint Morton said. “We have the starter which is just hot chocolate by itself, then we have the standard which is hot chocolate with whip cream, and then we have the fully loaded, which is hot chocolate with whip cream, marshmallows, chocolate chip and some peppermint pieces.”
“The fully loaded hot cocoa option was a fun, over the top surprise,” Amanda Jules said. “It was like having a kids drive-thru Starbucks at Santa’s Village. The take-home cookie kit was also the perfect ending; a great way to extend the fun at home.”
“We had so much fun decorating the cookies and of course tasting the icing. It extended the holiday cheer even longer,” Susan Siwy said. “This year has been very hard on all of us and blessing residents with this opportunity was very much appreciated.”
Participants called the event a blessing in disguise and expressed gratitude toward the LCA.
“To be able to do events like this, it’s nice that it gives people something to come out for,” Morton said. “It gives you something to do. It’s just nice to give everybody a break. There is so much this year that seems to be so down and events like this are good.”
“This is really just another opportunity to get our community together, to give people something to do,” Emerson said. “Now that restaurants have gone back down to 50 percent, parents are really looking for something to do, and we want to keep the holiday spirit alive in Las Colinas. This event is another compliment to the holiday magic we want to bring her.”
“It was great to have a safe, family friendly event available,” Jules said. “I have enjoyed watching how nearby areas have pivoted during the holiday season to give kids some normalcy. I hope some of these styles of events continue beyond our current social-distancing needs.”