Santa to visit Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center Thursday

Only a week separates Carter County from Christmas day, and with so many events and gatherings to attend, families can stress out, which takes away from the fun. The Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center hopes to provide a relaxing alternative to stuffing their children in coats and waiting in lines for hours.

Programming and Special Events Coordinator for Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Kelly Kitchens said the event is meant to be a relatively stress-free Christmas event for children and their parents alike.

“There is always something to do,” Kitchens said. “It is not like waiting in line at the mall to see Santa.”

As a parent of teenagers, Kitchens said many family-focused activities are full of stress as parents try to organize and prepare their kids. She said she wants Reading with Santa to be the opposite.

The event will take place at the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center. Kitchens said the event will include inflatables, games and even a Letters to Santa station, a gift from Lowe’s.

Originally, the event was three hours long instead of two, but she said the children get tired quickly.

“We always start with one hour of free-play,” Kitchens said. “After that, Santa comes in and reads a story, and then he always stays to listen to Christmas wishes.”

Kitchens said the event, which averages around 150 people every year, stems from the Elizabethton/Carter County’s storytelling programs with their own twists, though they also partner with the library to give out special items.

She said the children are their primary focus.

“This is specifically for the children,” Kitchens said. “You bring your kids here and they will have fun immediately.”

Kitchens also said seeing the children’s reactions makes the whole experience worth it.

“Seeing the kids having fun and sitting on their parents’ laps as Santa reads a story is the most rewarding part for us,” she said.

The event is one of many ways the Parks and Recreation Center reaches out to the community, along with partnering with the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition, though events like this are among her favorite.

“This is the most fun job you could do,” Kitchens said.

Reading with Santa will take place at the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center at 300 W. Mill St. from 1 to 3 p.m. She said anyone and everyone is invited to attend, and since they will not have their own photographers on site, Kitchens said parents are more than welcome to take their own pictures.

“It is great seeing the children on their parents’ laps,” Kitchens said. “You can see the glow of magic in their eyes.”

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