Pilot Story and photos

by Lynn Davis

This year, Santa made his first visit to town by sea, instead of by sky.

The big guy, along with his lovely wife, Mrs. Claus, and two of his favorite elves, were chauffeured by boat to the Port Sunday evening, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Upon arriving at the beautifully lit-up Boardwalk, the cheerful couple and their holiday helpers were greeted with the hugs and wishes of hundreds of eagerly awaiting youngsters. One by one, each child took a turn settling in on his lap, giving him hints as to what they would like to see under the tree on Christmas morning.

andquot;Its great coming down here. The kids really love it,andquot; said Tony Hernandez, whom brought two children, Brandon, 5, and daughter, Tyler, 4, to see St. Nick.

Tyler found it hard to contain herself while waiting in line, Hernandez said.

As the trio took their place at the back of the procession, the 4-year-old, held by her father, caught sight of a little white ball of fluff, and the rest was history.

andquot;Tyler was yelling his name when we were all the way down at the Book Dock. She saw the tip of his hat,andquot; Hernandez said, laughing.

Many children asked Santa for special Christmas gifts, while others saw it as an opportunity to ask him questions nobody else could answer. They made requests for video games, puppies, and toys, and asked about Rudolph and the other reindeer.

One 5-year-old boy asked about his brother. According to Mrs. Claus, the boy explained that his brother was overseas, serving in the military.

andquot;Why can't he come home?andquot; he asked Santa.

andquot;It was the saddest thing,andquot; Mrs. Claus said. andquot;We asked him to give Santa a big hug and explained to him that we would be seeing his brother soon, and would give him the hug.andquot;

Mrs. Claus said the parents were grateful to have the opportunity to bring comfort to the little tyke.

Organizers of the event were pleased with the turnout, and believed it to be the biggest one yet. The Clauses and elves enjoyed their welcome.

andquot;We had a tremendous reception here in Brookings-Harbor. It was great to see all of the children,andquot; said Mrs. Claus.

Sunday's visit marked the sixth year she and her husband have been a part of the community event, and said how nice is twas to have the Second annual andquot;Lighting of the Portandquot; take place during their visit.

andquot;It was truly wonderful to see all of the people lined up on the boardwalk, and all of the brightly lit shops, too,andquot; she said. andquot;We really enjoyed the experience.

She added, andquot;Santa and Mrs. Claus would like to thank the Coast Guard for picking us up and bringing us to the Port.andquot;

Participating Chetco Village Merchants and the Port of Brookings-Harbor co-sponsored the two holiday events, with the help of several donations from the community.

Christmas music and caroling, provided by the Book Dock Band, completed the evening's welcoming in of the holiday season.

The band invited one Brookings newcomer to take the stage with them for a song or two.

andquot;I was standing nearby, humming along with the band, and the next thing I knew, I was being asked to come on stage,andquot; said Jana Mozal. andquot;I was delighted to do it.andquot;

She added, andquot; I just moved here two days ago from Pacific Grove, California. Its absolutely charming; I love it here. It reminds me of how Pacific Grove used to be 25-30 years ago.andquot;

Festivities also included hot apple cider, marshmallows and Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and even Jack Frost nipping at noses.

Two noses getting nipped were on the happy faces of twelve year-olds, Ashley Lueckfeld and April Turner. Despite the cold December temperature, they still had a great time seeing Santa and chillin' with friends.

andquot;I think its cool, but cold,andquot; shivered Lueckfeld.

Turner agreed, and smiled, andquot;Its cold, but a lot of fun.andquot;