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Santa sets up shop in Williamsport

December 17, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- It's that time of year again, when Williamsport offers its popular visit with Santa for children, all set in Byron Memorial Park, which is decked out for the holidays.

Santa Claus is portrayed by Roger Grimes, who has been working on his naturally white beard for 38 years.

On Wednesday night, children jumped at the chance for a Christmas chat with him.

"Gimme a high five," Grimes said to 5-year-old Dallas Croasmun of Clear Spring as the boy climbed on to Grimes' lap.

Dallas' sister Katie, 8, then got her chance with Grimes.

"You been a good girl?" Grimes asked.

"Uh, huh," Katie said.

"Sure?" Grimes asked.

Every year, local children visit the community building at the entrance to the park for a chance to see Santa Claus. The visits continue tonight and Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Children are invited to see Santa, get a bag of treats and bring a food donation for the Williamsport Food Bank. A collection box for the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots is also available.

Williamsport Town Council member Jeff Cline, who was at the event Wednesday night, anticipates that about 100 gift bags will be given to children each night.

Cline said a Kraft Foods distribution facility in Washington County donated 480 boxes of animal crackers for the gift bags. Also in each bag is a chocolate bar, an orange, a town of Williamsport coloring book, a Williamsport pencil and candy canes.

Jackie Croasmun, the mother of Dallas and Katie Croasmun, said she has been coming to the event for years with her children.

"They're really nice people here. It's a nice thing they do," Croasmun said.

Vernon and Cheryl Cline of Williamsport took their two granddaughters, Shyan and Alissa Feiser, to Wednesday's event.

All four of them gathered around Santa for a picture, which was snapped by Jeff Cline, a Town Council member.

"They look forward every year to coming down and seeing Santa Claus," Vernon Cline said of his granddaughters.

Food donated by children will be put to good use by the Williamsport Food Bank.

Mary Anna Kline, coordinator of the food bank, said the organization has assisted a significantly higher number of people this year, which she attributes to job losses in the bad economy.

"It's really going to be rough. It's already been rough," Kline said.

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