Kids have been telling Santa Claus what they want for Christmas at the Granary Square Shopping Center for so long that no one is really sure when it started.
Liz Greenstine has lived in Valencia her whole life and remembers her mom taking her to see Santa at the marketplace when she was just two years old. She is 32 now and takes her two-year-old niece to get a taste of the same holiday spirit she loved when she was her age.
“It’s so nice to see her smile and be part of her life,” said Greenstine.
Since Greenstine’s childhood, Santa at the Square Day has evolved into a full-blown
holiday extravaganza that includes face painting, live performances, balloon animals and of course Santa Claus himself.
This is Sue Savigar’s sixth year organizing the event with her partner, Lori Tucker, and Savigar and her husband take full advantage of the opportunity.
After renting a Santa Claus suit for the first couple years of being a marketplace Santa, Kevin Savigar decided to purchase his own Santa Claus suit just for the Granary Square Shopping Center event every year.
He laments the old days when he had to rent a previously worn suit as well.
“The worst part was the beard,” he said. “You could taste somebody’s Cheetos from the year before.”
Although his favorite part is seeing the kids’ smiles, he also gets a kick out of the children getting their photos taken while they’re screaming on his lap. In fact, he jokes that those pictures should be framed and shown to the kids when they grow up just for embarrassment’s sake.
It is nice that Kevin stays good humored about the crying kids as it was quite common to see a kid screaming while on Santa’s lap as was the case with 15-month-old Billy Wiebers. After the stereotypical, comedic shot of their son screaming on Santa Claus’s lap, Billy’s parents went for another try and were happy to get the result they were looking for.
“This was round two and he was happy,” said Bill Wiebers, Billy’s father.
The Wiebers attended a Santa Claus event last year at the mall and said they enjoyed the Granary Square Shopping Center event a lot more. Everything was free and they especially appreciated being able to take the photos with their cell phones instead of depending on a hired photographer.