BONNERS FERRY — Downtown Bonners Ferry was decorated with Christmas lights and decorations showcasing the arrival of the most anticipated holiday of the year for children of all ages. Community members lined the sidewalk downtown on the chilly evening of Nov. 24 with their families as their children’s eyes shone in anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.
As the fire truck pulled up with a ‘whoop-whoop’ on the siren, the crowd cheered as Santa stepped down from the vehicle, and cheered again after he plugged in the extension cord that turned on all of the Christmas lights, which cast a festive glow across the Georgia Mae Plaza.
Excitement filled the air through conversation and laughter among the attendees, and the children contemplated what they were going to ask Santa for upon their turns on his lap.
When prompted, most children and their adult caretakers said that they came mainly to see Santa and get their picture taken with him. Still Dreamin’ Studio’s photographer, Mandi Bateman, was the attending photographer for the event hosted by the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce.
“After 29 years of professional photography, this was my first time getting the opportunity to photograph kids with Santa, and it was just amazing,” said Mandi Bateman. “I absolutely loved hearing what all the children told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. My favorite one was a little girl that asked Santa for all the cats and dogs in the Humane Society to find homes.”
Super 1 Foods donated candy canes and Safeway donated hot chocolate for the attendees. The weather was a concern as it was predicted to rain, but the rain held off until later that evening.
Melinda and David Brinkman, Sharlene Delaney, and Jill Nystrom were key in the success of the event as they donated their time and effort into making the evening extra special for the community. Over the years, this traditional event for Boundary County has changed, and through stories of past years, the team has plans to bring back some of the old traditions such as using the event to light up the whole of downtown with the plugging in of the lights.
Allen and Jeanine Dickson, from Moyie Springs, said they brought their four children to see Santa, the lights and the tree.
Young Lizzie Deheer said, “What I am going to ask Santa is for Shopkins Cutie Cars, which are cars for Shopkins.”
Jace Yeoumans said, “I felt impatient to see Santa while waiting in line, but it gave me time to think about what I wanted to ask Santa, which was for an infinite money chest so I can give it to people in need and to help our family too.”
Four year old Zachary Hegler attended the event with mom and dad Kimberly and Ben Hegler, and grandparents Dana and Steve Ergenbright as well as his aunt Rebekah Ergenbright.
Zachary Hegler begged his parents to allow him to give a gift to Santa. His gift for Santa was homemade cookies which were carefully wrapped and adorned with a bow and a candy cane.
“He wanted to give him cookies, then he wanted to wrap them up, then he wanted to give him one of his candy canes,” said Zach Hegler’s grandmother.
“It was really special for us all to be together and share in Zachary’s excitement at meeting Santa Claus. He was so excited to bring Santa cookies, he even helped with the wrapping and took a candy cane off the tree to give him. That is his heart, to share and love on others. It makes us all feel so proud and blessed,” said Zachary Hegler’s mother.
After the kids saw Santa, they were greeted with cups of hot chocolate and a candy cane. There were several other props around the area for families to take pictures on, including a gingerbread house, a sleigh, and a snowman flanked by faceless gingerbread cookies which were utilized for numerous photo opportunities.
With a turnout of about 160 children with rosy cheeks from the cold, everyone who attended left with smiles on their faces, and the Christmas spirit shining in their eyes.
For parents looking for photos of their children with Santa: www.StillDreaminStudio.com