Sometime around 2 p.m. Saturday, with a large crowd of children and their parents waiting as patiently as possible, the sound of the Okee’s Old Fashioned Amusements train echoed through Johnston War Memorial Park.
It carried Santa Claus, who arrived waving and amid applause from starry-eyed children.
The Johnston Parks and Recreation Department and the Johnston Community Center Association again upheld the promise that Santa Claus was coming to town, and jolly Old Saint Nick did just that.
Santa’s arrival was highlighted by holiday music, played by Johnston High School Music Department chairman Ron Lamoureux on trumpet, alum and current JHS faculty member Gary Swiller on trombone, All-State tuba player Justin Salvatore and Carlos Fragoso, the top-ranked high school trumpet player in the state.
“It’s rewarding to see all the children having a good time sharing their Christmas wishes with Santa Claus,” said Glenn Carroll, the JCCA’s long-serving president whose entire family helped make Saturday special. “This is what the holiday season is all about; we love doing this event every year.”
Although the chilly air created an extra need for heavy apparel, people warmed up by sipping free hot chocolate that long-time JCCA volunteers Maureen Manion, Ann Carol and Donna Gilmore served alongside Nicole Carroll – when she wasn’t making another fresh batch of her famous popcorn. Meanwhile, Valerie Valentine manned the raffle table.
Even the Graniteville School helped make the 2019 Holiday Festival special, as Parent Teacher Organization co-presidents Aracelis Sical and Karlie Sundberg set up shop and offered a scratch off lottery ticket fundraiser drawing.
Meanwhile, as Glenn Carroll and his long-time friend, JCCA vice president Mark Gilmore, offered: “Santa Claus was without question the star of the day. The kids always look forward to his pre-Christmas visit and how food they’ve been all year.”
The same holds true for the JCCA, an ageless community event designed to put smiles on the faces of young and old alike, via important events like Saturday’s super special Holiday Festival. The JCCA’s giving spirit goes well beyond the festival. The nonprofit presents 10 lucky kids with $75 gift cards to go toward a bicycle at Walmart.