Even the biggest storm of the year can’t keep Santa away from these kids – The Downey Patriot
Neither the rain, nor the gusts of wind, nor a dark, cold morning could keep the Downey second graders from their lunch with the Downey Rotary Club. Everyone hoped neither, the weather couldn’t stop Santa from arriving.
The heroes of the morning were the principals and teachers of each of Downey’s 13 K-5 schools. They, in their own cars, not big yellow school buses, drove the kids to the Rio Hondo Event Center, where everyone converged in small groups of four and five and just on time.
Bill Kirkwood in a cranberry-colored jacket and John Lacey in a holly red shirt and a Dr Seuss-sized umbrella waited to informally greet them in the grand entrance hall.
Inside, the Bob Winningham banquet hall was a buzz of excited voices as children gathered around tables, lined with white tablecloths and red and green napkins. Rotarians were outnumbered, with 72 visitors in attendance, including children and two staff from each school.
A little boy was so excited he was spinning and dancing on his own beside the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the golf course. So many Rotarians were already helping, baking gifts, pulling out cookie trays, and sitting down with their little guests.
The children were in their best clothes, pink quilted jackets and sequined butterflies or solid knit winter sweaters. The teachers wore necklaces with painted Christmas decorations and some had red caps. Rotarian Joyce Y. wore Christmas tree eyeglass frames and glitter cones in her hair, and Jazlyn Acebal sported red antlers. Patricia Megallon wore a unique red and green Santa’s helper costume. Everyone was celebrating. The lunch dishes were not lost: chicken and fries with ketchup quickly disappeared from the children’s plates.
Schools have a desirable 25: 1 teacher-to-student ratio, but each school’s population is large, say 900, compared to what I remember from my childhood. Yet every principal knows every child, those who drove to school today and those who walked through the rain.
“Do you think Santa Claus is coming?” I asked and got a refrain of “Yes”. A little girl showed me how she had crossed the fingers of both hands, for luck.
âWe have several conferences,â explains a counselor from the Alameda school, âto choose the children who will probably not have other meals or holiday gifts. The needs of the family are taken into account, and we also want to reward good attendance and good citizenship. ”
We recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and the shrill voices of the children rang out above us. Everyone was masked and the children remembered to mask themselves again after eating. We all sang Jingle Bells, Rotarians jingling their car keys to accompany the tune, and Feliz Navidad, with applause.
“It will take one more song,” said Debbie Fox, who, along with her husband Dan, conducted the backing vocals. And of course, along with the strains of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, the merry old elf appeared.
He had a curly white beard and flowing locks, gold-rimmed glasses, and a small, round stomach. It was a dancing Santa Claus. He capered around the room, bowed, and motioned to his chair opposite.
âHave you been good this year? Santa asked, and a resounding yes came back as an answer.