The holidays officially kicked off in Sheffield Lake December 10. After lighting a tree at Joyce Hanks Community Center’s Gazebo, Santa went inside where dozens of kids took turns telling him about their wish lists and posing for photos.
Some 250 party goers – many decked out in Christmas sweaters and sweatshirts, Santa caps, reindeer antlers, blinking jewelry, ribbons, scarves and pajamas – spent time visiting six craft activities while enjoying hot cocoa with marshmallows, pizza and cookies.
Mayor Dennis Bring, sporting a Christmas hat and sweatshirt, was happy so many families turned out. “This event is about the kids and their families and giving them a fun event. It was great seeing so many parents or grandparents sit with children at craft tables, having fun making ornaments or decorating cookies, laughing and enjoying themselves,” he said.
The center, which typically hosts meetings for scout organization, yoga, cooking club, knitting groups and senior coffee and is frequently rented for private parties, had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Large red and green ornaments and red and white 3D stars hung from the ceiling of the large West Room. Lighted stars were hung in windows and Christmas trees were everywhere, including a 15 foot tree that reached to the ceiling. Decorations were purchased by Mayor Dennis Bring and his wife, Kim. Mrs. Bring also baked cookies which were distributed by volunteers. Tree ornaments were donated by Councilwoman Rosa Gee.
Six crafting areas were set up to give families fun things to do. Dozens wrote Letters to Santa before queuing up to see him in person. Volunteers helped kids make wreaths, reindeer and Christmas tree ornaments Domonkas Library staff helped them create snow globes.
The smaller east room was set up for cookie decorating and was busy throughout the evening as kids and a few adults tested their skills at decorating homemade cookies supplied by Sheffield Lake resident Brandy De Leon.
Sheila Kepic, owner of Sheffield Lake’s Exclusive Balloons, created a red and green balloon arch as well as a colorful backdrop for the Santa chair. Doughboys, another local business, provided cheese and pepperoni pizza.
Bring said the event costs about $2,300 stressing that most of the money was paid to Sheffield Lake businesses, which he considers an investment in them. In-kind donations from the Brings and others reduced expenses by hundreds of dollars. “Isn’t that expense well worth it in order to bring this many smiles to residents’ faces?”
Twenty-five volunteers made sure kids were helped at craft stations, kitchen operations ran smoothly and the Santa line kept moving. They included 11 National Honor Society students from Brookside High School, four teachers from the city’s Summer Arts Program and ten senior residents who are part of the Monday Morning Coffee group, which meets at the center.
Laura Shea, a member of Monday Morning coffee, added something special to the event when she surprised kids with gifts of hand-painted Santa faces on tiny stones that could be hung on Christmas trees. One young mom, whose child received the gift, exclaimed, “Finally! An ornament that can’t break!”
Plans are already underway for next year’s event.
Hats off to Volunteers
Anyone who has worked on an event whether a wedding, retirement party or Thanksgiving dinner, knows the amount of time and support needed to ensure everything goes well. The City of Sheffield Lake gratefully acknowledged the roles that volunteers played in the 2022 Christmas Party.
Senior Coffee volunteers (kitchen operations)
Andrea Alten, Wayne Blabolil, Liz Delmonico, Stacy Kapperman, Debbie Reising, Altha Schellenberg,
Laura Shea, Dave Sperry, Dan Woodings, Diane Yuhasz, with Councilperson Rosa Gee
Brookside High School National Honor Society volunteers (greeted guests, assisted with crafts and Santa line)
Aliyanna Cardona, Rollie DeLuca, Kennedy Dietz, Maddie Fada, Anisha Phukan, Arushi Phukan,
Kaitlyn Popowski, Rachael Seekins, Haley Trowbridge, William Trowbridge, Camryn Vilevac
Summer Arts program volunteers (assisted with crafts)
Deb Suarez, Lynn Jones, Leah Wright, Meg Dietz