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Santa Claus is coming to town

Families enjoy holiday activities at event hosted by Park Centre and Friends of Newton Park

Siblings Addyson, Libby and Maddox Cibula were told by their mother they were all going out for breakfast Saturday morning.

By the time the family arrived to Park Centre, the kids were reasonably confused — until they saw the man and woman in red suits waiting for them near an illuminated Christmas tree in the lobby of the Newton retirement community.

With mouths agape and eyes as wide as could be, the three kiddos sat beside and on the laps of Mr. and Mrs. Claus for a quick photo session. The big, bearded man listened to their requests for Christmas gifts before the young ones headed off to the dining room for pancakes, sausage and eggs.

Hosted by Park Centre staff and Friends of Newton Parks, Breakfast With Santa allowed families to enjoy a relaxing morning full of hearty food and good tidings.

Student volunteers from Newton High School corralled the youngsters for cookie decorating and holiday craft making sessions.

Emily Bates, of Newton, brought along her children, 5-year-old Mayah and 14-month-old Nolan, to participate in the event. Although her son was too young to decorate his own cookies or color an ornament for the tree at home, he still enjoyed a small dollops of frosting from his sister’s cookie.

The Bates family had never been to Breakfast With Santa before, but had heard about the event on Facebook. The kids were up early Saturday morning and wondering what they would do to take up their time. Emily Bates thought this breakfast would be the perfect outing for her and the kids.

“It’s a lot of fun. For parents it can a little stressful having a bunch of kids, but it’s worth it in the end (to come to events) because they have fun. It’s fun to let them experience this and get out and see what the community has,” Emily Bates said, acknowledging these events can be a nice break from holiday gift shopping.

Margot Voshell, director of marketing at Park Centre, said Breakfast With Santa has been organized by the business for about five years, but was previously held at the Newton Arboretum with Project AWAKE holding craft sessions.

Knowing the event outgrew its space at the arboretum and that Friends of Newton Parks was holding its own related event, the two entities decided to combine forces. Since both groups wanted to benefit the community during the holiday season, a collaboration just made sense.

Danielle Rogers, of Friends of Newton Parks, said combining the two groups was “a great way to grow the event.” Free will donations collected from Breakfast With Santa directly benefit the Maytag Park Holiday Lights Display.

Voshell said, “More than 25 years ago when Park Centre was founded, it was founded by local Newton residents and they wanted to make sure that a big part of their vision and mission was to be very community minded and open our doors and be available for not only the people who live here but for everyone in Jasper County — and even beyond!”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

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