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Six weeks to go, but kids ready with lists for Santa

November 13, 2005|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

alician@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - A few children backed away in fear, while several others boldly presented wish lists that read like strategic procurement plans.

But most children in Valley Mall's center court on Saturday simply were thrilled to be in the presence of jolly ol' St. Nick as he arrived to kick off the holiday season.

Mary Wesmiller, 7, and her brother Joseph, 6, of Smithsburg, were pleased to be among the first in a long line of fidgety little ones waiting to see Santa.

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"I'm thanking God in heaven," Mary Wesmiller said.

Mary said she was planning to request, among other things, a ballerina set and a Bulls-Eye Bounce, while Joseph was hoping for a karate set.

"Mom's got the list," Joseph Wesmiller said.

Britni Dickens, 6, of Hagerstown, didn't need a list to keep track of her wishes.

"All I want is a Barbie dress to wear myself. I fit a six," Dickens said.

Dickens' sister, Bonnie Kackley, 4, said she would like a new stove for cooking cheesy eggs and bacon. She then darted off to hug a plush walking Christmas tree.

The visit with Santa itself was enough to satisfy Michaela Hunt, 2, of Hagerstown. Hunt's grandmother, Rita Crane, said Hunt recently had seen Santa's castle at another mall and was upset that Santa wasn't there. Saturday, after visiting with Mr. Claus, Michaela sat contently on a fountain wall smiling and singing, "Fa la la la la."

Julie Rohm, assistant general manager of Valley Mall, said the arrival of Santa Claus drew around 820 children last year, and based on lines Saturday morning, she expected attendance this year would surpass that figure.

Rohm said Santa's mall surroundings - a railroad station called Valley Junction - were designed specifically for Valley Mall as a salute to Hagerstown's history as the Hub City. Workers from the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum were busy in Valley Junction erecting train gardens, which they will be adding to throughout the holiday season.

"Hagerstown wouldn't be the Hub City without the trains," said Dennis Masters, director of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

Damon Hammond, 3, of Prince George's County, Md., and his cousin, Terence Ballenger, also 3, of Hagerstown, were fixated on the emerging train gardens, joining the engines saying, "Choo choo" as they passed.

"They came to talk to Santa because they want some trains," said the boys' grandmother, Libby Ward.

Rounding out the historical train theme at Valley Junction were Victorian carolers, traditionally decorated Christmas trees and live characters such as Choo Choo the engineer bear and Christ-mouse.

Santa will be at Valley Junction Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. until Christmas Eve.

For visitors who miss out on a one-on-one visit with Mr. Claus, there is a mailbag at Valley Junction where children may drop off letters and wish lists.

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