Santa Claus will make an early appearance this Saturday in Johnston. Before heading to the town’s annual holiday festival, Saint Nick will be at the Johnston Senior Center between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. Families can bring their children and have a photo taken with Santa Claus for free.
Taking a picture of Santa Claus is just one of the many offerings that will be part of the Johnston Police Explorers Post 405 second annual holiday craft fair that will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center.
“We’re expecting to have 40 vendors during Saturday’s unique event,” said Captain Marc A. Boisvert, the JPD’s program coordinator for the Explorer Post, a program of the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts that deals with young men and women ages 14 to 20 who are interested in law enforcement careers.
The second annual holiday craft fair, which helps fund the yearlong programs of the Explorers Post 405, will include quilted and crocheted items, ornaments, gift baskets and a large selection of quality homemade crafts from local artisans. Vendors will also sell home décor, jewelry and more. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase.
“We are really excited about this year’s holiday craft fair,” Boisvert said. “We want to make it special for everyone that attends."
In addition to photos with Santa and a chance to shop for the holidays, guests can participate in a raffle. Each vendor that sets up a booth at the holiday craft fair donates an item that is used in the raffle. Last year’s raffle featured 45 items. Captain Boisvert and Janice Riley, president of the “Friends of the JPD Explorers,” are hoping that this year there will be even more prizes.
There are several ways people can receive a free raffle ticket. One way is by supporting the JPD Explorers Post 405 annual Toys for Kids drive.
“We encourage people to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the holiday crafts fair and they will receive a free raffle ticket,” Boisvert said. “This has been an ongoing tradition for almost 20 years. It’s also one of the most important parts of what we do during the year.”
The Toys for Kids drive benefits families in Johnston and Boisvert and the non-profit group’s advisors, Sharon Ambrosini, Robin Brown and Chris Giardina, are hoping to have an all-time high turnout. Once all the gifts are in the Explorers get to work, getting them ready for distribution.
“That’s another great night for our Explorers Post 405,” Boisvert said. “We have a huge gift wrapping party that lots of people enjoy.”
This year’s gift wrapping party will be held next Thursday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Johnston Senior Center.
“It’s really something special,” Riley said of the annual gift wrapping party. “I think that even when I’m done with my term [as president], I’m going to come and help that night. It’s all about giving back to the kids; the Boy Scouts come, the Cub Scouts come...we turn the senior center into Santa’s workshop.”
There is another free element to this Saturday’s holiday craft fair that Boisvert emphasized the importance of.
“The Rhode Island Blood Center will have its Blood Mobile unit at the senior center,” he said. “Representatives will be accepting donations, and everyone that gives blood will receive a free raffle ticket.”
The Blood Drive will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Blood Mobile will be parked at the senior center entrance located just off Hartford Avenue. For more information or a vendor’s space, call Boisvert at 231-4210 ext. 3118.