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Santa visits Michigan yacht club’s Christmas party

December 16, 2018

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Morgan Runyon knows just what she wants for Christmas.

The 6-and-1/2-year-old presented her list, written neatly in violet crayon, to Santa with a collection of drawings during the Grant Traverse Yacht Club children’s Christmas party.

“I asked him for a My Kissing Puppy, Fingerlings and a fashion set,” she said matter-of-factly.

Her triplet brother and sister came just as prepared.

“They each had their own agendas — her brother brought a picture of a shovel he wants and her sister didn’t need to bring anything, she knew what she wants, a ballerina dress,” Nicole Runyon, Morgan’s mother, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle .

Morgan and her siblings joined dozens of children who eagerly awaited St. Nick’s afternoon arrival at the Yacht Club.

They weren’t listening for reindeer hooves or jingle bells, though — for this local visit, Santa takes a different approach.

Kris Kringle, with signature fur-trimmed red suit and warm smile, rode in from the Grand Traverse Bay on the deck of a yacht club vessel.

It’s always a favorite.

“I absolutely love the tradition of having Santa come by water — I have children now in their 20s who have such fond memories of it,” said club member Heather Lockwood. “It’s so nice of Santa Claus to take the time out of his busy schedule to boat over to us. We pick him up from the sleigh and reindeer.”

“It’s the highlight of all our kids’ Christmas,” added club Social Director Heather Van Stratt. “Getting him off the boat is the highlight for the parents.”

Children passed the time building gingerbread houses around drained chocolate milk cartons, which were then decorated with red and green M&M shingles, peppermint windows, candy cane trees and sugar-frosted gumdrop bushes.

Several tables also boasted crafts, where half-finished paper star and snowflake ornaments lie in various states of glitter application.

Janie Schultz helped her 6-year-old grandchildren, twins Lincoln and Graeme Chapman, make ornaments of their own. Lincoln’s yellow felt star sported half-glued pompoms and plenty of glitter.

“It’s a truly great event every year,” said Schultz, who has brought along the pair for three Christmases now. “They have a ball.”

She and the boys make sure to bring a few toys for the Traverse City Fire Department Toy Drive. Club members pay their way for the annual party by bringing a donation each year.

“We get a lot of toys,” Van Stratt said.

The large wrapped box set up near the club’s main doors nearly overflowed with stuffed animals and boxed toys.

That, like Santa’s unique arrival, is a longstanding tradition.

It has been since the party began nearly two decades ago.

Like they have for those two decades, the children’s waiting finally paid off.

Santa’s appearance was heralded by a rush for coats and eager sprinting onto the snow-coated lawn to watch the boat, with Santa at the helm and yacht club flag billowing, pull toward the seawall.

Soon, St. Nick — glasses still fogged from the winter chill — found himself surrounded by a crowd of children, donned in their Christmas best of sparkling, velvet-trimmed dresses and festive sweaters, eager to share holiday wishes. They waited patiently, nibbling candy canes and wiping forgotten cookie crumbs from their cheeks, and raised their hands for a turn.

Santa’s elves — or rather their stand-ins, the club’s older children — passed out candy canes to each young one.

Many of the yacht club’s roughly 300 members look forward to the event every year, Van Stratt said, and parent volunteers are easy to find for help setting up the event and Friday evening’s adult Christmas party.

“The parents love it, the kids love it. We have a really close-knit club,” she said. “Really, it’s just amazing to be able to celebrate the holiday with your close friends.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com

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