SLEIGH SIGHTING // Hesitations, then celebrations

Published Dec. 9, 2002|Updated June 20, 2006

"Go over there!" her grandmother ordered Kimberly, pointing to a line of children waiting to to be photographed with Santa at Sims Park.

Kimberly didn't move.

"Kimberly, let's go," pleaded her mother, Patricia York.

"I don't want to," the girl replied.

"Don't you want a toy?" Kimberly's sister asked.

Now you're talking.

When Santa finally arrived on a horse-drawn cart, shaking his red and white hips in an untraditional holiday boogie, Kimberly York was ready with her requests.

A baby doll, she requested, and, showing Santa the gap among the ivories in her mouth, two front teeth. Santa gave her a stuffed animal and a lollipop. The other gifts will wait for Christmas.

"Can't bribe her with candy. She eats that all the time. But toys . . .," grandmother Shirley Deciucies commented.

Under a cloudless blue sky Saturday, Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey went all giddy over Christmas. There were hayrides, a children's art show, an inflatable slide, hot dogs and kids choirs.

But the star of the Sims Park shindig was the jolly gentlemen himself. Who would have known Santa was short, not very fat, wore plastic-framed glasses and was fond of dancing?

Two-year-old Cole Waide, seeing the fuzzy red suit and jaw-covering white beard, initially thrust out his lower lip in a full pout. Santa sat in a red velvet rocking chair, Cole propped on his knee.

But when Santa produced a stuffed pair of penguins and a green lollipop, all was forgiven. Cole kissed St. Nick on his strangely synthetic facial hair.

Cole's mother, Deanna Waide, was pleased with her son's progress: "Last year, it was a full-fledged scream."

As Santa worked through the line of young fans waiting for a snapshot with their favorite fat man, the breeze carried the smell of mustard and relish from the snack stand.

And the speakers blaring from the park stage played a holiday tune: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.