For several hundred children at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, the night began with a Charlie Brown Christmas and ended with a hug from Santa Claus beneath a newly lit Christmas Tree.
At least 400 people attended a live showing of the iconic Christmas story, put on by the Triumvirate Theatre. By the middle of the middle of the show, volunteers with the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce had run out of coffee and hot chocolate — though several platters of cookies remained as did a container of decaffeinated coffee.
As dozens of children performed on stage, dozens more ran around in the snow — surprising each other, and their parents, with snowball fights and spontaneous snow angels. At times, the shouts of laughter drowned out the show.
Santa Claus stood behind a brick wall at the back of the state — waiting for the right moment to introduce himself to the kids, though many found their way to him before he was officially introduced by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. The two led a countdown to light the city’s metal ConocoPhillips Christmas tree after the stage show.
Micciche said Peak Oil Field Services, the Homer Electric Association and the city contributed to the operation of the tree as well.
As children swarmed up a small snow embankment for a hug from St. Nick — several paused for photos, including Erick Hugarte, whose father of the same name, reached over the crowd to put his son into Santa’s waiting arms.
“He’s heavy,” said the elder Erick Hugarte, with a grin. “He’s been eating his tamales. Now, say Feliz Navidad.”
As the father took his son back out of Santa’s arms, he said that his family loved to celebrate Christmas.
“It’s the day our savior was born,” he said.
Kelley Hugarte, Erick’s wife, said she enjoyed seeing the crowds. “It’s nice to come out and do something with the community,” she said.
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