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Santa has but one clause - Be good

December 20, 1997

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

Santa has but one clause - Be good

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

HALFWAY - It's a childhood rite of passage that has become as much a part of the popular holiday culture as Frosty and the Grinch themselves: taking a seat on Santa's lap to tell what you want for Christmas.

Such was the scene Saturday at Valley Mall, where the line to see Santa Claus was longer than ones at the ATM, the customer service kiosk and the gift-wrapping desk.

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The children, like the grownup counterparts rushing to fill out shopping lists, flocked to the mall to get their last-minute requests in five days before Christmas.

"I want a big Barbie," said 4-year-old Kayla Kendall of Hagerstown.

Jaggar Hobday, 3, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., sat on one of Santa's knees and said he wanted a Tonka truck. His cousin, 2-year-old Chelsie Hobday, also of Berkeley Springs, sat on the other knee and said she wanted a Barbie doll.

"Last year she was scared. This year she's great," said Jennifer Hobday, Chelsie's mother.

Like any good mall Santa, this bearded benefactor made no promises but added one clause: Be good.

"He said he'd see what he could do," said Morgan Heintzelman, 8, of Hagerstown, just after climbing down from Santa's knee.

If it's up to Morgan, he'll have plenty to keep him busy. She would like a puppy, a ferret and a CD player, among other items.

"I told him I wanted three kinds of Barbie dolls, but I forgot what they are called," she said.

But not all children were as aggressive as Morgan. Some cried, some quickly jumped off Santa's lap and others don't even make within three feet of the man, preferring to make their toy requests at a distance.

That was case of 2-year-old Hart Weaver, who lasted just a couple of seconds with Santa before deciding he'd rather be somewhere else. He didn't even get a chance to say what he wants for Christmas.

"He knows he doesn't want to sit on Santa's lap," said his mother, Lisa Weaver.

Hart's 4-year-old brother Wade, however, had no trouble telling Santa about his desire to find a dinosaur under the Christmas tree, preferably a real one.

The boys' father, Eric Weaver, admitted the parents often have as much fun as the children do.

"Just to see the smiles on their faces," he said.

Jaryd King, 4-year-older from Waynesboro, Pa., didn't ask Santa for any gifts. He just came to hear Santa's signature greeting, and he wasn't disappointed.

"He went, 'Ho, ho, ho,'" a wide-eyed Jaryd said, smiling.

Some were too young to tell Santa what they wanted, like 18-month-old Asia Prieto of Chambersburg, Pa. But she still sat quietly on Santa's lap long enough to have her photograph taken.

Cynthia Prieto said her daughter hasn't developed a taste for toys yet, but is definitely into the holidays.

"She just likes the wrapping paper and the ornaments on the tree," she said.

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