The big man lit up El Dorado Hills Saturday night, arriving in Town Center with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Mrs. Claus was a late scratch in the soggy proceedings, but the crimson crusader flew solo and never missed a beat, personally greeting hundreds of kids to the delight of their picture snapping parents.
He warmed the hearts of everyone within Ho Ho Ho range before helping Tony and Louis Mansour light the 32-foot community Christmas tree perched in front of Regal Cinema.
Shortly before Santa’s arrival Rat Pack tributores “The Deanoholics” took the stage — that guy sounded just like Dean Martin — and the rain stopped, as if Tony Mansour had put out an executive order. It stayed dry through the tree lighting. The wet weekend nonetheless kept the crowd down. El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Manning put attendance at “1,200 to 1,500,” about half last year’s turnout.
The lighter crowd made for a less hectic event; the “Santa-crush” at the rope line less intimidating for young kids and local reporters.
The El Dorado Hills Fire Department, the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Services District once again hosted the jolly geriatric, a long-standing local tradition.
Mansour said he appreciated the turnout, and all the community support he’s gotten in Town Center. “Sure, it would be great to see another thousand people here,” said Mansour. “But look at all these families that came out, even though it’s been raining all day.”
Once the tree was properly illuminated Santa made his way back to his chariot, stopping to greet every single child along the way.
Tina Klein, 7, said meeting Santa was “pretty exciting.” Chris Pinero, 6, agreed, but felt his earlier visit with the big fella’ in the Welcome Center was a more substantive interaction. “It was better,” said Chris. “I sat on his lap.”
While the tree glowed revelers sang carols with the Dino’s and piled into Town Center eateries. Santa moved down to the Welcome Center for some more lap-time with El Dorado Hills children.
Manning said 350 kids, apparently including Chris, visited Santa earlier in the day. Santa likes the new California Welcome Center so much he’s promised to hang out there every Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., and Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. through Dec. 18. The week before Christmas he’ll be there every day. Photos are available.