Nick Hawkey was sitting in the Palmerton Hotel 17 years ago with some members of the Marine Corps League - retired former Marines. The subject of sponsoring a dinner for residents of Palmerton and the surrounding area came up.
The hotel was willing and it became reality. Eventually, the event outgrew the hotel and moved to the Aquashicola Firehouse. It is held every December.
Hawkey is there not only in the role of Santa but as coordinator for the project, which became a fundraiser for Dream Come True. The Dream Kids come to entertain.
Any money they earn or receive through donations at their many appearances goes to Dream Come True. The Monday after this year's dinner they turned over a check to Dream Come True to push the total over $100,000 in the 14 years they have been singing.
In April the group will sing at Give Kids the World at Disney World and at the park. The former is where people stay when they go to Disney World for their dream.
Blue Mountain Kodas Motorcycle Club members were there this year. Hawkey's role was to choose a child and the club would adopt her for Christmas. They also donated $150 to Dream Come True which came from club members' pockets. The president is Gary Grauvogel of Lehighton.
The food is donated anonymously and cooked by the same person with the help of others. Members of the Carbon Mountaineers Marine Corps League check people in and serve dinner.
Wyatt Rondeau, 2, walked around with a blinking Rudolph nose and reindeer antlers.
Mike Lewis, who has attended all of the 17 years, said, "Nick (Hawkey) is a nice guy and the Kids are very talented."
Each child received a Slinky, neatly Christmas wrapped, or a stuffed penguin depending on their age. Candy canes went to everyone.