Where Santa found a spot to park his sleigh is anybody's guess, but Saturday's snowy conditions were just right for the Big Man to fill the Burr Homestead with cheer for the annual "A Visit to Santa's House," hosted at the historic mansion by the Fairfield Junior Women's Club.
It was the 28th year that the club has sponsored the "Visit" for legions of Santa's young fans, and weather permitting, the event was scheduled to continue Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the homestead, 739 Old Post Road.
In addition to a chance to meet-and-greet Santa Claus and his crew including Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the event featured a raffle for donated prizes, Mrs. Claus' Bakeshop, holiday crafts for young children, storytelling, a silhouette artist, a model train room, entertainment such as Flash Pointe Dance students performing "The Nutcracker Suite" ballet, a tai kwon do demo and a "Tree of Kindness" bedecked with visitors' wishes.
"This is a community tradition which everyone looks forward to," said Cheryl Eustace, one of three co-chairwomen of the event. "We brought in the community to help us, as we always do, with at least 70 volunteers throughout the weekend. In addition to our usual features, new this year is a Santa salon with fingernail painting and beauty touch-ups conducted by the Fairfield Ludlowe High School cheerleaders."
For those served by non-profit Cardinal Shehan Center of Bridgeport, Christmas comes early this year as the beneficiary of proceeds from "A Visit to Santa's House." "We choose a different beneficiary every two years," explained Eustace. "This year we've chosen the Shehan Center."
Lorrains Gibbons, the Shehan Center's director of development, said, "We are head over heels excited to have been selected this year. Our mission is to enrich lives through learning. And besides raising funds for us, JWC members will be partnering with our Girls Zone program to provide activities targeted to girls in sixth to eighth grade from low-income families. Skills being taught include anti-bullying, interviewing, resume writing, beauty and makeup, career path guidance and arts & crafts."
There was some degree of anxiety leading up to the weekend opening said Jen Hinkle, another co-chairwoman, as the winter storm closed in Saturday. "We have a snow or shine policy and kept close tabs on the forecasts for the weekend," said Hinkle. "We hoped that people who had plans elsewhere would stay local to enjoy the event. The flow has been pretty steady."
The JWC of Fairfield was founded in 1965 to promote community service work and to provide members with opportunities for enrichment, leadership experience and social interaction. To date, the group has donated over $400,000 to charitable endeavors, including the Beardsley Zoo and Burroughs Community Center, both in Bridgeport, the Connecticut Audubon Society, scholarships for graduates of Fairfield's high schools and Fairfield's Superstorm Sandy Relief Fund, to name a few.
To help support the Shehan Center, visit www.shehancenter.com