City of Mesa Parks and Recreation held its annual Breakfast with Santa at the Mesa Convention Center Saturday.
It was the 10th year of the event, which this year fed around 280 people twice, in 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. sessions – both sellouts.
There was breakfast, a raffle, a costumed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and an elf and, of course, pictures with Jolly Ol’ St. Nick – all for only $5 per family member.
Recreation programmer Jacquie Gallo has organized the event for the entire 10 years, since its humble beginning at the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center.
“It’s beautiful. I love this event.” Gallo said. “I love this facility. It’s great.”
Proceeds from the breakfast benefit City of Mesa’s Community Spirit, a charitable fundraising and volunteer organization whose goal is to make Mesa “a better place to live,” according to city news releases leading up to the event.
Funds go toward elementary schools and families in need, Gallo said.
There was also a canned-food collection for a United Food Bank at the event.
District 2 Councilman Alex Finter attended the breakfast with his daughter, son-in-law and three toddler grandsons – Lincoln and twins Maiz and River.
“You know, sometimes we kind of miss out on some of those traditional activities in the community,” Finter said. “This one brings a lot of folks together. “
“With all the tragedies and terrible things that are going on right now,” he said, just a day after the mass killing at an elementary school in Connecticut, “… it’s that glimmer of Christmas spirit that you hope you find in a community.”
District 1 Councilman Dave Richins also attended the 8:30 a.m. breakfast with his three elementary-school-age daughters. He said his 12-year-old son is a little too old for Santa, now.
Richins applauded the community-building and good-cause aspects of the event and also the showcasing of an important city facility in the convention center.
“To me this is what cities do. It’s events like this that get people in city facilities,” he said. “Taxpayers pay for these things, for these facilities, we need to use them and get people in them.”
After a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and oranges and pictures, the children were treated with an arts-and-crafts table to make Christmas decorations. Each child also received a gift bag upon entry that included stickers and crayons.
Efficient service was provided in most part by an all-volunteer regiment of students from Red Mountain High School’s Club Diversity, which participates in a wide range of community service activities.
Both councilmen and Gallo complimented the dedication of the students, who gave up a Saturday morning, following the end of their semester, to donate their time.
The lines moved fast and food was delivered as each party arrived. Different families were seated amongst each other at random, making for a social, jolly and quick experience.
Mesa Convention Center is located at 201 N. Center St.
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