Santa reads to children at Parks and Recreation

Among the many destinations Saint Nicholas has on his calendar lately, Santa stopped by the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center Friday afternoon to read stories with them and share in the holiday season.

Program and Special Events Coordinator Kelly Kitchens said this is one of her favorite events they put on every year.

“This is the magic of Christmas,” Kitchens said. “It is always on the last half-day of city schools.”

Before Santa arrived at 2 p.m. Friday, however, the gym held several inflatables, a coloring station and more. During storytime, children could also have milk and cookies as they wound down from their exciting fun for the past hour.

Kitchens said the event serves as an excellent way for families to take the edge off and celebrate the holidays together.

Part of the event also included a partnership with the Elizabethton/Carter County Library, who let children bring home a book of their choosing.

“Any time we work with our community partners, it makes it that much better,” she said.

This kind of partnership, she said, is important because they, the library and Carter County Drug Prevention all share the same goal: community improvement.

“We are all pursuing the same goal,’ she said. “We try to as much as we can to merge recreation, literacy and prevention.”

The building was full of cries of excited children playing in the bouncy castle and listening to Santa read stories to them, an experience she said captures the essence of Christmas.

“They get to see Santa in a new light,” Kitchens said. “They really get to soak in the time when he reads.”

She said the bustling nature of the holidays sometimes means families rarely have the time to slow down and really soak in the experience, an opportunity events like this serve to promote.

She said this kind of outreach is something they try to do at least monthly.

“Everything we do is free,” Kitchens said. “We try to do at minimum one event a month.”

Those interested in catching another of Parks and Rec’s similar events can follow their Facebook page or call 423-547-6441.

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