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Jingle all the way!
New format doesn’t hamper annual Santa’s Workshop
Santa waves to passing vehicles as Saturday’s Santa’s Workshop Express event outside the Great Bend Activity Center.

After nearly a quarter of a century bringing smiles and Christmas cheer to local youngsters, the 2020 Santa’s Workshop event has taken on a new look while not missing a beat.

In an effort to provide safety measures against COVID-19, Great Bend Recreation Commission staff created a drive-through or “express” format allowing participants to enjoy Saturday’s event from the comfort of their vehicles. Children received a complimentary North Pole Goodie Bag while Santa’s helpers collected “Letters to Santa” for the North Pole Mailbox. Assisting this year’s Workshop were student organizations from Great Bend High School.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our local high school students to work on their community service projects,” said Diann Henderson, executive director of the Great Bend Recreation Commission. “Great Bend High School has done a wonderful job with organizing these student organizations to take part in community-wide activities such as Santa’s Workshop Express.”

Enrichment Director Garet Fitzpatrick worked with the Great Bend Student Council and their sponsor, Kelli Henderson, to transform the activity for safe participation but still provide plenty of fun for attendees. “We’re very appreciative of how the community has responded in keeping safety at the forefront while still being able to enjoy a fun and traditional holiday activity,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re also very thankful to Great Bend High School for reaching out and helping coordinate several of the newer aspects of the event.”

Henderson said plans on restructuring the annual Christmas occasion began in September following previous plans to cancel the event. “I think everybody was just really anxious about how we were going to accomplish Santa’s Workshop in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “But with a little creativity and the help from support staff and other members of the community, we were able to successfully pull this off, albeit with a very different look.”