Paradise – Santa Claus had just arrived at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center in Paradise when a bunch of 3- to 5-year-olds came to charge and opened the door to Paradise Fire Engine 81. “Merry Christmas, Paradise!” said Santa Claus. “Ho ho ho!”
The Paradise Parks and Recreation Department on Saturday marked the countdown to Christmas in the Paradise event. The event included a holiday craft fair, community ornament crafting, Christmas carols, a visit by Santa Claus, and a parade of light trucks.
The night began with a performance by the Small Voices class, led by Lori McCoslin, entertainment coordinator for the Paradise Department of Parks and Recreation. Toddlers sang Christmas songs like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, to which the crowd of parents roared with applause.
Santa Claus visited the entertainment center where families took pictures and the children got to ask for presents. McCoslin said that every child who meets Santa gets a candy cane.
“We had 500 candy canes and we probably went through about 300 candy canes,” McCoslin said. “We had a great turnout.”
McCoslin helped organize the tree lighting program and introduced all the children to Santa Claus.
“Tonight I’ve seen some kids—they’re 20 now—come and hug me and say, ‘Teacher Lori! Teacher Lori!'” McCoslin said. “I feel blessed every day and every day I get a chance to be a part of it.”
As the sun began to set, Paradise Mayor Steve Crowder addressed the people of Paradise.
“It’s great to see this ice rink again and back to normalcy on the ridge,” Crowder said. “It has been hardly three years for us, but a lot of positive things are happening. I want to thank you all for the support and faith you have given in heaven.”
As the mayor’s speech concludes, Santa Claus switches on to light up the Paradise Christmas tree. When the crowd calmed down, Millie Kinmont asked the staff if she could come on stage and sing to the public in a moment of spontaneity.
“In Elf, I’ve always wanted to do where she goes on stage and everyone sings along,” Kinmont said.
Soon after, the skyway filled with Christmas lights, inflatables, music and a parade of trucks lined up for the rim with dancers. Resident Kitty Smith brought camping chairs to get a good seat for the truck parade of lights.
“I want to see all the different companies that show their light,” Smith said. “They’re a little competitive.”
She and her husband Mike Smith lost their home in a campfire three years ago. Smith said he missed his annual viewing of the truck light show last year. She reflects back now that she finally finished rebuilding last November.
“You know the old saying, come home for Christmas? We really, we really have.” Smith said. “And that’s part of it.”