Minden Christmas event lit up by children | RecordCourier.com

Minden Christmas event lit up by children

by Sarah Hauck
Santa makes his way towards to Minden gazebo after his arrival was announced by sirens Friday.
Sarah Hauck |

Dubbed an honorary Santa’s Helper by Mrs. Claus herself, 6-year-old Kadin Mitchell flipped the candy cane-striped switch to bring Minden Park into the holiday season at the festivities Friday.

Town Board Vice Chairwoman Roxanne Stangle said involving a child was a great addition.

“That was just icing on the cake,” Stangle said. “How can you come down here and not smile?”

Kadin was at the event with his brother Joseph, 4, and his mother Tiffany.

“I was kind of afraid when I walked up, but I guess I was a little bit brave because I did it,” Kadin said. “It was awesome.”

Encouraged by his mother to enter his name into the raffle, Kadin wasn’t hopeful that his name would be chosen by Santa to be the envy of all children at the event.

“When he put in his name he said ‘mom, I’m not going to get picked’ and I told him ‘yes you are, just watch. They will call your name.’ And sure enough, they did. It was awesome,” Tiffany Mitchell said.

This was the family’s first time being at the Minden event.

“It was awesome that its for the kids. I would bring them again next year,” Mitchell said.

Mrs. Claus was the first to congratulate and shake Kadin’s hand after flipping the switch and giving him the title of honorary Santa’s helper.

“I had no idea this little town would have such a welcome mat. It’s neat,” Mrs. Claus said. “I feel like a celebrity riding on his (Santa’s) coat tails.”

Mrs. Claus also enjoyed the new element of the child flipping the switch to the gazebo, traditionally a town board member child’s job.

“It was just awesome. He will never forget it,” Mrs. Claus said.

Town employees handed out s’mores kits to families to be able to enjoy the fire barrels crackling on Esmeralda.

The park was filled with holiday tunes played by the Douglas High School Jazz Band.

Hundreds of children waited in a line that stretched from one side of Esmeralda to the other to have their chance to sit on the guest of honor’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

“The excitement and the smiles on faces,” is what town accountant Ted Thran said he enjoyed most about the event. “It brings you back to the memories of being a kid.”

Patrons could keep warm with a steaming bowl of chili or cup of hot chocolate after the lighting as well.

With a few changes to the main decorations, Santa and his team, worked through the week to get the park ready.

“It all has to be sorted and bulbs have to be changed. Everything’s got to be sorted out,” town employee Tim Cottrill said.

Accompanied by his wife Shelley Cottrill and father-in-law Frank Rourke, the event provided a small town feel that the group enjoyed.

“We come to see the lighting of the gazebo because it’s really pretty. Its more homey and community oriented,” Rourke said. “We come here for the music in the park, too. “

Shelley enjoys seeing the lights that her husband has been so busy working on.

“He helped put up all the lights so I get to see what he did; his handy work,” Shelley said. “Plus, he’s been so busy with these that we don’t have any at home.”

Working on the Minden Christmas event for 27 years, Stangle said her favorite part of each event is watching the adults.

Lisa Dupont-Moore, a 15-year Minden resident, has attended the event every year, and was with her daughters Friday night.

“It’s more quaint and lends itself to that small town feeling and having Santa here makes it that much more special,” Dupont-Moore said. “I like the fact that the kids have a lot more involvement than the other towns. They take a lot of extra care in having little things (holding up her s’mores kit).”

Dupont-Moore’s youngest daughters Sophia, 6, and Ella, 8, didn’t wait for the ceremony to get in line to talk to Santa.

“Getting in line with Santa is crucial,” Dupont-Moore said.

“I’m excited to see Santa. I’m going to ask him for a ginormous teddy bear,” Ella said. “I like that the lights shine bright.”

Sophia and Ella were playing with friends Morgan Davis, 6, who was going to ask Santa for a cotton candy maker, and Alyssa Albert 7. Albert was going to ask Santa for a giant polar bear that lays on the ground.

“I like having fun with my friends and doing fun games,” Alyssa said. “The lights are really beautiful.”

The evening was summed up in a single word by Dupont-Moore as she watched her daughters run and play with their friends, “magical.”