Bay Ridge

Santa leaves North Pole to come to Bay Ridge

December 14, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Santa Claus lets Derek McCreay ring his bell to let everyone know of his arrival. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Santa Claus left the North Pole temporarily to fly into Bay Ridge on his sleigh, landing inside Saint Anselm Catholic Academy, where he greeted children and posed for photos with his fans.

Santa’s visit was the highlight of the St. Anselm Winter Wonderland event, a two-day extravaganza on Saturday and Sunday that turned the school building at 365 83rd St. into a scene straight out of the North Pole.

There was Santa and his sleigh, of course. But there was also a majestic, 25-foot-high, fully decorated Christmas tree, a postal station where children could mail letters to Santa, a bouncy house for kids to enjoy the day and a gift shop where people could buy Christmas gifts. The tables in the gift shop were filled with hand-crocheted hats and scarves, handmade jewelry and other must-have items.

Churches and schools all over Brooklyn are hosting Christmas fairs, pageant and other activities as the holiday gets closer.

At St. Anselm, there were fun-filled activities on two floors of the school. Visitors were greeted by the sight of the 25-foot-tall Christmas tree when they entered the gym. The tree served as the centerpiece of the vast room. “It’s beautiful!” said Fadia Helwani, who took a picture of her children, Victoria and Matthew, standing next to the tree on Saturday afternoon.

The postal station, gift shop and game center were all located around the gym. Nina Acevedo-Palomino and her daughter Lani Palomino manned the postal station, helping youngsters craft letters to Santa and showing the children where the mail slot was located.

Over in the gift shop, members of the Young at Heart Club, a senior citizens group at St. Anselm Catholic Church, were busy selling hats and scarves that they handmade.

Meanwhile, a lot of action was taking place downstairs in the basement level of the building.

Santa was talking to children in one room, while in another room, kids were presenting a play depicting the Nativity, from the arrival of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem to the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger when there was no room at the inn.

The talented young performers at the Saturday matinee were Megan Brennan, George Berninger, Megan Dean, Kate Dean, Noreen White, Sami Soto, Gabriella Soto, Christean Khayata, Gianna Capialbi and Luke Johnson.

At the end of the play, the children treated the audience to renditions of “Silent Night,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”

The room was decorated to look like Bethlehem would have looked 2,015 years ago.

The spring-like weather over the weekend, which saw temperatures reach the 60 — more suited to Easter than Christmas — didn’t keep the crowds away, according to James McKeon, principal of St. Anselm Catholic Academy. “We’re very pleased with the turnout,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“Hats off to the parents and volunteers who spent so many hours creating the Winter Wonderland at St. Anselm Catholic Academy this past weekend. Truly, the school was alive with the Christmas spirit for all those in attendance with a 25-foot Christmas tree in the center of it all, and the event showcased the talent of our students in the live Nativity play,” said John Quaglione, chairman of the school’s board of directors.

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