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Breakfast with Santa a hit in Hagerstown

December 06, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

With the temperature in the 70s, it hardly felt like Santa weather.

But the kids who came to see the jolly old elf on Saturday didn't care.

Neither did the parents.

"I like this weather," said Betty Socks, who brought her two sons to the Breakfast with Santa event at North Hagerstown High School.

Socks, who lives on Baltimore Street in Hagerstown, said she hopes it stays warm through Christmas. But then, how could Santa land his sleigh?

"I hope the questions don't come. I'm not sure what I'd tell them," she said.

But Dustin, 7, and Devin, 5, didn't seem to care.

Dustin said he only asked for one present when he sat on Santa's lap: a bike.

When they weren't getting their pictures taken with Santa Claus, the 140 or so children who came on Saturday ate breakfast, got balloon art, watched magic and laughed at a clown.

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Dustin said he particularly enjoyed Sacho the Clown.

"If you said, 'hocus-pocus,' he couldn't juggle," Dustin said.

So of course, the children screamed "hocus-pocus" and Sacho dropped everything.

This was the eighth year the International Management Council has sponsored the Breakfast with Santa event, but it was the first time it was not held at the Hagerstown YMCA.

Kerry Henson, co-chairman of the breakfast, said organizers opted for North High this year because it is much bigger and there is plenty of parking.

"This year, we thought we'd try something a little different," he said.

Also different this year, Henson said, was the organization's gift of free tickets to several organizations, including the Parent Child Center, CASA and Big Brothers-Big Sisters.

Children were separated into different groups and rotated into different rooms. Magician Jerry Mullenix set up shop in the auditorium. Sacho plied his trade in an open area outside the auditorium.

Santa had another room.

By breaking them up, organizers were able to get the kids to Santa in manageable chunks.

"Trying to get 200 kids on Santa's lap in three hours was a challenge," said Debbie Doyle, president of the International Management Council. "What makes it all worthwhile is seeing the children's faces when they meet Santa."

Candice Snyder brought her son, John, to see Santa, although, at 2, he is still a bit young to appreciate the experience. Snyder, who works nights, came toward the end of the three-hour event.

"I think it sounds like a good idea," she said. "I just got out of bed."

Dawn Gipe, who brought her daughter and niece, has been to past breakfasts with Santa.

"There's a lot more space this year," she said.

Kalina Gipe, 8, watched the clown show and saw Santa, although she didn't want her picture taken. She pondered what the best part of the event was.

"I like everything," she said with a giggle.

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