When Santa holds an open house, he doesn't mess around.
Hundreds of families flocked to the Burr Homestead on Saturday for the 27th annual "A Visit to Santa's House" sponsored by the Fairfield Junior Women's Club, the civic group's largest fundraiser of the year. The event continues today -- Sunday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the historic mansion, 739 Old Post Road.
The Christmas event is the Junior Women's Club's "biggest fundraiser of the year, and this year the Thomas Merton House of Bridgeport is our beneficiary," said Meghan McCloat, a program co-chairwoman. "We're also giving a portion of the proceeds to The Fairfield Storm Sandy Relief Fund, to help victims of the recent hurricane."
The line up of activities offered by Santa and friends included a visit and photos with the Man in Red himself, cookies by Mrs. Claus, a baked goods sale, entertainment ranging from dance and karate demonstrations to a petting zoo, crafts and stories read by costumed characters.
Eleven rooms in the mansion also featured festive holiday decorations, including fresh wreaths donated by local florists and nurseries.
Marlene Battista, the club president, "This is a staple in the community, a holiday tradition. Parents and children look forward to their visit."
Mark Grasso, vice president of the Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport, was grateful for the Junior Women's Club support. "This is the second year we've been named as funding recipients," he said. "Last year's donation amount was the largest our family center has gotten in one shot, over $17,000. Funds will help feed pre-school children and their moms and support daytime education and skills-building activities.
"We've had a great relationship with JWC-- they've volunteered at the center, brought birthday boxes of presents and helped with activities," he added.
Fairfielder Kristin Lewis, browsing raffle items with daughter Ella, commented, "I'm so grateful Fairfield has events like this," she said. "It's great for the kids and the community."
In the kitchen, Keurline Desilier and Linnette Roman of Bridgeport visited with Mrs. Claus, who offered them and their children fresh-baked Christmas treats
In a bright sunroom, an audience watched dancers from Fairfield's Flash Pointe Dance school perform their version of the classic "Nutcracker" ballet.
Taquana Spearman and her children had photos taken with a life-sized Gingerbread Man.
David and Sophia Velez, 6 and 3 years old, respectively, of Fairfield, clambered around an oversized gingerbread playhouse.
Zerlina Hayes, of Darien, and her twin children Lucia and Finn, age 4, were among the youngsters working on holiday crafts.
Then there was the jolly old elf himself. Santa, enthroned in an upstairs room at the homestead as scores of people lined up to see him, commented with a noticeable twinkle in his eye, "I brought my elves from the North Pole. We're hoping there will be some more snow while we're here, but it sure feels like Christmas here in the house."
For more information about the Fairfield Junior Women's Club and its programs, check www.jwcfairfield.com