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Matter Park hosts breakfast with Santa

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DECK THE HALLS: The Matter Park Garden House was festively decorated for breakfast with Santa, sponsored by Miller’s Merry Manor and the Marion Parks and Recreation Department, on Saturday morning.
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BETTER NOT CRY, BETTER NOT POUT: Bryce Kadena poses for a photo on Santa Claus’ lap at Miller Merry Manor and the Marion Parks and Recreation Department’s breakfast with Santa in the Matter Park Garden House Saturday morning.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

Santa Claus took advantage of the chance to talk with the season’s hopeful children Saturday morning.

Miller’s Merry Manor and the Marion Parks and Recreation Department hosted a free breakfast with Santa in the Garden House at Matter Park.

Despite the chilly December rain, Grant County families with children of all ages came out for the chance to meet Santa in his jolly red suit, tell him their Christmas wishes and take photos.

“We want to be as involved with the community as possible, and anything that we do in the parks department is all about the quality of life,” said the parks department’s Director of Programs and Events Julie Fauser. “This is one way of us partnering up with a local business here in town and giving back, and doing something for kids in our community or our county.”

The holiday spirit in the Garden House couldn’t be dimmed by the dreary weather. Santa sat in a carved wooden chair under a festive wreath, framed by two Christmas trees decked in shining round ornaments and twinkling lights. The room was filled with the energy and sounds of excited children and socializing families sharing milk and donut holes.

John Velasquez, administrator at Miller’s Merry Manor, said that the rehabilitation center has been co-hosting this event with the parks department for about six or seven years. He estimated about 200 people attended this year’s breakfast.

Velasquez said he feels the prominence of cell phones bolsters this event, as families are able to easily get their own photos with Santa.

“We’ve always liked the parks department,” Velasquez said. “We just kind of feel like we want to do something for the community, make it community based. … We just thought we’d continue a tradition … anyone can enjoy.”

Fauser expressed the hope that this event can be a part of families creating holiday memories they can look back on for years to come and be a tradition families look forward to each year.

According to Velasquez, Miller’s Merry Manor also plans to continue the tradition next year. He appreciates the park department providing the beautifully decorated Garden House and bringing Santa every year.

For Grant County families seeking more Christmas festivities, the parks department will also be hosting holiday family nights this evening and Friday. For $5 per child, families can visit with Santa, see elves and Mrs. Claus riding horses, decorate Christmas ornaments and cookies and take a hayride through the lights in the park. The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. today and 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday.