Some of those wanting pictures with Santa included volunteer greeter/helper Mary Imbeault

Some of those wanting pictures with Santa included volunteer greeter/helper Mary Imbeault

Bentley Santa’s breakfast continues to grow in popularity

There was again a great turnout for the Bentley Santa’s Celebration.

There was again a great turnout for the Bentley Santa’s Celebration.

It ran from 9 to 11 a.m. on December 12 at the Bentley Ag Center. Everything was free of charge.

Over 300 guests signed the guest book but some missed signing in.

Around 30 individuals and volunteers from various groups including the local museum, TOPS, the library, Bentley Boutique, Stay and Play group, Razzle Dazzle Family Day Home, Ag society, Rimbey gymnastics club, Jennifer Johnson music students and other individuals manned different areas, were greeters, and provided entertainment.

“Numbers were comparable to last year,” said Bentley Community Services manager Barb Carson who coordinates the event, but admitted there were concerns that morning because of poor visibility and travelling conditions.

Many attendees agree the event appears to be getting bigger and more organized and more impressive each year.

A free pancake breakfast/brunch included pancakes, sausages, juice/coffee, small Christmas oranges, and small yogurt served by volunteers from TOPS. Longer lineups at times moved through quickly by the well-prepared TOPS chefs.

There were free crafts for the kids. Local museum volunteers supplied copies of letters for Santa that could be picked up and filled in. When completed letters were returned to the table, a small candy bag was given out. Volunteers said they have fun collecting the letters and will make sure each one is answered personally by Santa.

There were a number of tables with craft supplies to make a Santa beard, a Christmas bell from a paper cup, and Christmas cards. Volunteer Kathy Pike helped organize some of those.

Face decorating supplies with face paint crayons and stickers was at another table with Bentley Boutique volunteer Sarah von Tettenborn overseeing.

Throughout the morning, 23 youth members from the Rimbey Gymnastics Club showed some moves and routines, and some music students of Jennifer Johnson provided some musical pieces.

The gymnastics club mentioned their sudden tragic loss of Jill Bellows who was the club president.

There was a free draw for everyone to enter for a gingerbread house that was fashioned after the “Monkey Top” saloon this year. It was designed and built by volunteer firefighter Kathy Issler. Over the years, she has made creative gingerbread reproductions of many different buildings throughout Bentley for the event.

There was a small blow-up bouncer house provided to offer more fun and for the little ones to let off steam. It was good to have an adult volunteer supervise there the full time.

This year a new beautiful creative backdrop for behind Santa’s bench was designed by Greg Carson. The main feature was a huge blow-up polar bear that stood all the way up to the ag center ceiling that had been donated by Sylvan Lake Wal-Mart. Carson added a wonderful mountain landscape and borrowed fake spruce trees for an astonishing effect.

Santa was very popular and kept busy. His special elf, Laurie Sarty, kept things on track.

Jolene Naismith from the local library manned tables where, after their Santa visit, each child could pick out a free book to take home from tables stacked with new books provided for by Hans Gelsing.

MP Blaine Calkins was present and said he really enjoyed it. He said he didn’t know something like this was done here and was impressed.

MLA Jason Nixon had been invited but sent his regrets.

Some ag society members and other volunteers were ready to aid in a fast cleanup.

Donations by groups/businesses/individuals and at the door go towards covering the cost of the event.