Santa arrives, children gleeful

CHESTERTOWN - Dozens of wide-eyed, gleeful children streamed in to see Santa Claus on Saturday morning at the Town of Chester Municipal Center in a scenario repeated across the North Country.

As has occurred for the past 35 or 40 years, the Chestertown Rotary Club sponsored their annual visit with Santa event, welcoming children from area communities.

The Rotarians served up refreshments, took free photos of children with Santa, and presented each child with a gift. These presents were wrapped by hand last week by Rotarians under the direction of Bob Clench and his wife Erica, Rotary Club member Rich Dwyer said.

Between 200 and 300 children were accommodated at Saturday's event, Dwyer estimated.

"We've been doing this so long, we're now seeing kids who've grown up, and now they're bringing their kids," he said, noting that the Rotarians also donate $1,000 to two local food pantries for Christmas..

Larry Hodgson took digital pictures of the children sharing their holiday wishes with Santa, and minutes later, finished photographs were rolling out of a digital printer nearby, manned by Rotarians John Coberg, John Grady and Bill Tierney.

The Chestertown Fire Department provided Santa with transportation to the Municipal Center, and children jumped and squealed as he arrived on a fire truck.

Standing by the doorway and smiling at the clamor, Dwyer recalled the many years that children waited outside at Dynamite Hill Ski Area, in some instances braving bitter cold to see Santa.

"The kids weren't that cold, but the parents were asking themselves, 'What on earth am I doing here,'" he quipped.

Parents left photos with Santa behind

Rotary Club members noted that quite a few parents left Saturday's holiday event without picking up their free photo of their child. The photos are still available, and can be obtained at no charge through the town hall.

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