WEEDVILLE — As cars drove through an event organized by Bennetts Valley Elementary School’s PTO (parent teacher organization) Dec. 5, students were excited to see scenes from “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “The Grinch” and “A Christmas Story.”
They were greeted first by Frosty, who handed out snowman soup, Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” in his pink bunny suit, who handed out reindeer food, and also saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a gingerbread man, a Christmas Bear, Goofy, a reindeer, a “Whoville” character, The Grinch himself, elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus, said Chrissy Keebler, four-year president of BVES PTO.
“It makes all of the hours spent planning so worth it, to see the excitement in their voices and on their faces,” she said.
Keebler, who has served on the PTO board for six years, said they usually offer a “Lunch with Santa” activity the first Saturday of every December. Children enjoy a meal and have their photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as receive a treat bag.
“Local businesses are great to us for this event, and we end up with a huge basket raffle, of more than 100 items,” Keebler said, adding that each item is valued at between $50 and $500, drawing in anywhere between 350 and 400 people each year.
What would’ve been the 14th year for Lunch with Santa had to be altered due to COVID, Keebler said.
“Needless to say, we couldn’t host our annual event, and we were incredibly upset because lets face it — we get just as excited as the kids do at this event,” she said.
BVES Principal Dan Vollmer, who dressed up as the Grinch, suggested some type of drive-thru effort instead, Keebler said, and they ran with that suggestion, creating “Santa and Mrs. Claus on BV Lane,” held Dec. 5.
Several area businesses contributed monetary donations, Keebler said, each year to help purchase auction items or donate gift cards or baskets.
“Our community continues to amaze us each year with their support,” she noted.
This year, Jay Township Fire Department sent volunteers to help with traffic control.
Western Home Appliance and Fritz Pianos donated large cardboard boxes for the displays, and Keebler’s niece, Maggie Geyer, helped draw and paint the holiday scenes. Vollmer, teachers and fellow parents helped decorate, fill treat bags and stand outside in costumes.
When planning this event, Keebler says they had no idea what to expect. PTO members made their usual 200 treat bags for the children, and ended up actually needing extra, Keebler said.
“Much to our surprise, the event was a huge success,” she said. “We all noted at the end just how many parents thanked us, and appreciated us doing something safe for the kids to still see Santa this year. The kids were leaning out their windows, giggling, cheering, laughing, just showing pure excitement and such happiness.”
Volunteer Mary Ann Pyne added, “The sparkly eyes melt my heart.”
“That pretty much sums up the feeling that all of us had at the end of the day,” Keebler said. ”We can’t wait to see everyone back next year, hopefully inside for our annual Lunch with Santa event.”