Just because Santa drops in from the North Pole doesn’t mean it has to be freezing in Great Bend. Unlike recent years, this year’s Santa’s Workshop wasn’t hampered by snow or ice. So, while it was a chilly 32 degrees outside, throngs of children, parents and volunteers made their way to the Municipal Auditorium Monday night to frolic with elves.
"Where do you start?" a bewildered mom asked as she looked over the auditorium floor, filled with children in paper reindeer antlers, some toting cups of popcorn and others with red circles painted on their noses. There’s no wrong place to start, but the line for an audience with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus forms on the left.
They could make magical reindeer food, decorate a snowman cookie, or try to toss rings on a reindeer’s antlers. Older kids could take aim with plastic snowballs and try to bean an elf.
On stage, members of the Great Bend Middle School Band played some festive music, which was followed by dancing by the El Sol Mexican Folk Dance club at Great Bend High School.
Santa’s Workshop is filled with games, crafts and treats, but the Great Bend Recreation Commission has plenty of little helpers for this annual event, including representatives from each class and several organizations at GBHS. One student, Kaitlynn Tuey, helped with the endless line of kids waiting for wintry face tattoos. "It’s fun and I like it," Tuey said.
More volunteers were in the Burnside Room of the adjoining Great Bend Recreation Center. That’s where a toned down version of Santa’s Workshop was held for smaller children. "The toddler side is way less crowded," one mom said.
But crowds didn’t faze children like 5-year-old Elsa Lopez, attending for the first time. She came to Santa’s Workshop with her mom and her friend Nathan Millard, also 5. They had both made fuzzy pencil toppers at a craft table when Elsa spotted Santa Claus, and the long line that led to him. "Can I go, please?" she asked. It didn’t take long before Elsa and Nathan were seated with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, sharing their wishes.