House Full of Families
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – Santa just loves to entertain and, with a little help from a few dozen elves, he invited several hundred families into his home Saturday morning for an annual visit and a full complement of activities.
“Home” was actually the Burr Homestead, at 739 Old Post Road, which for 26 years has been the host site of “A Visit to Santa’s House”, presented by Newman’s Own and the Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield. The two-day event, held Saturday, December 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday December 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a favorite destination for fans of St. Nick and all the interactive trimmings offered. Besides a visit with the jolly fellow, this includes Mrs. Claus baking cookies, arts and crafts areas, live seasonal entertainment, raffle items, a model train set-up, bake sale, gift shop, silhouette artist and guest appearances by costumed characters like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Proceeds of the event benefit The Thomas Merton House, a Bridgeport-based facility that provides families with food, clothing, and parental and educational support.
This year’s chairperson, Cheryl Eustace, of the Junior Women’s Club, said she and her fellow members are all involved in planning, which began in May. From sponsor support, $10,000 had already been raised. “We usually take in another $10,000 or so in sales and, after expenses, the proceeds will go to Merton House,” she said.
“The organization was very involved in the event,” said Mark Grasso, VP of Catholic Charities, whose role includes directing Merton House. “The moms that visit the center baked dozens of cookies and cupcakes.” Those were among the hundreds of baked items – all homemade – that were offered by JWC member Marlene Battista, with help from Mary and Brenda Pioli.
In the raffle room, on the main level adjacent to the baked goods area, everything from restaurant certificates to kids bikes and children’s portrait photography services was offered.
In the back kitchen, Mrs. Claus sat in a rocker with a huge plate of various cookies, delighting kids like Ryan and Jack McClane of Fairfield, who tromped through to collect a snack.
In the next room, kids lined up to try their hand at breaking a board held by Thomas Wulffleff of Kempo Academy of Martial Arts, who was leading a karate demonstration. Ten-year-old Abbey Kellerman, of Fairfield, was one of the participants. Her family had won tickets to the event and other special treats in a raffle sponsored by the JWC earlier in the year. The family had a special parking place, early entry and the first photo with Santa.
In another room, kids busily made elf hats out of construction paper. Elsewhere, children created Christmas collages. Deborah O’Connor worked with paper in her own way, crafting silhouettes of family members.
In yet another spot in the Homestead, kids wiggled and laughed while Jillian D’Onofrio of Giant Steps Toy Store read “Nutquacker”, a silly holiday tale, to them.
Of course, the biggest draw was Santa himself, and a line of families led from a second floor landing, through a hallway and into the room where he sat receiving children. The joy on their faces was a clear sign that all the months of event planning and arrangements was well worth the effort.