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Santa makes special stop at ranch

Annual event allows physically and emotionally challenged a day with Saint Nick

Posted: December 21, 2013 10:22 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2013 10:22 p.m.

Katie Kameya, 8, hugs Santa, (Albert Rodriguez), as she gets a candy cane during the annual Santa Day event held at Carousel Ranch in Agua Dulce on Saturday.

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The harmonious sounds of Christmas carollers, decked out in Western wear, filled the air as children and their parents lined up eagerly to see Old Saint Nick and Mrs. Claus on Saturday in Agua Dulce.

Saturday was the annual Santa Day event at Carousel Ranch — a charity that provides equestrian therapy for children who are physically or emotionally challenged.

Denise Tomey-Redmond, the executive director of Carousel Ranch, said the event started more than a decade ago as an effort to give those who participate at Carousel Ranch a chance to share in some traditional holiday activities.

“These kids can’t necessarily wait in line to see Santa at the mall,” she said.

So Santa makes a yearly visit to the Agua Dulce ranch instead.

“It is very important to them and they look forward to it,” said Tomey-Redmond as kids nearby toasted marshmallows.

The event has grown through the years. Tomey-Redmond estimated between 250 and 300 people came out to Saturday’s version, which also included a variety of other activities including face-painting and a craft project where children could make ornaments.

The event also featured a petting zoo where children and adults alike could come face-to-face with critters like rabbits, ducks and goats.

Sponsored by Pardee Homes, the event was originally planned for last week but had to be delayed because of high winds.

But it was still well worth the wait for attendees and volunteers.

“It’s our community,” said Judi Bruner, marketing coordinator for Pardee Homes. “And to come out and see the benefits of the work that is going on out here is a real morale booster.”

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