Castaic families welcome Santa in his sleigh

Diane Collins, 3, tells Santa Claus what she wants for Christmas this year during the annual Lion's Club Santa Float on Castaic this month. Katharine Lotze/Signal
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Just like the granny-knitted sweater or the 4th Grade Christmas tree ornament, the annual visit by Santa in his sleigh to Castaic neighborhoods has become a very personal part of family Christmas traditions.

“I love that it makes Castaic what it is – a small town,” longtime Castaic resident Paul Wittwer said, standing by Santa’s roadside stop, amid a throng of children and their parents.

“It reminds me why we moved up here,” he said, as his 4-year-old grand-daughter, Kaylee, looked up at him.

Joshua Davis, dressed as Santa Claus, visits with Santa Claus on the annual Lion's Club Santa Float in Castaic on Monday. Katharine Lotze/Signal
Joshua Davis, dressed as Santa Claus, visits with Santa Claus on the annual Lion’s Club Santa Float in Castaic on Monday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

As he’s done for the past three decades, Santa made his way through Castaic on a sleigh-like float Monday night, making frequent curbside stops in the neighborhood.

Monday night, jolly Saint Nick visited home-lined streets on both sides of Interstate 5, including streets off of Sloan Canyon Road, stopping on Rogue Way and Hipshot Drive.

For 10 days, the Castaic Santa Float, sponsored by the Castaic Lions Club and The Signal, was expected to travel through the streets of Castaic, spreading holiday cheer and warming children’s hearts.

The annual event for the Castaic and Val Verde communities began in 1989 when local businessman Jeff Preach created the home-made float on the back of his motorcycle trailer.

“They’ve come a long way from the motorcycle trailer,” Whittwer said. “Now my grand-daughter can enjoy it like I did.”

The Wittwer family wasn’t the only multi-generational family present Monday to receive Santa on his stops.

For 26 years, Christine Dison, brought her daughters to see Santa as he stopped curbside to let her children and her neighbor’s children scramble onto the float, then onto his lap.

“I would bring my kids up here,” she said. “And, I love it that I can do the same tradition for my grandkids. This absolutely warms my heart.”

Dison’s grand-daughter, Gina, gave Santa a kiss and asked for Zootopia for Christmas, referring to the recent animation movie.  When Santa asked her why, she replied simply: “Tigers.”

Gina’s mother, Diane Collins, who grew up in Castaic, said of Santa’s visit: “It’s awesome to see that this tradition has been upheld.”

All six members of the Davis family came out, including Joshua Davis dressed in a Santa costume, complete with cotton ball beard.

“It’s great to come out and see Santa right in your neighborhood,” Joshua’s father, Chip, told the Signal.

Lacey Davis, 8, the family’s only daughter was very clear on what she would like to receive from Santa: Minecraft, the full version. Her 14-year-old brother, Drew, was close by pecking at a handheld device.

Scott Davis, 12, sporting a red and white Santa hat, was there too, beside his mom, Amber Davis.

All the while, Santa sat calmly at the back of his sleigh (float), receiving each child, big and small, paying close attention to what each young visitor wanted.

“One girl, her name was Harper, asked for a snow day,” Santa said. “I said I would try, but reminded her it was Southern California.”

How were the kids?

“Amazing” said Santa.

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