The sixth annual "Magical Breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Santa" was a treat for children, parents and grandparents alike.
The breakfast is an important tradition for local Scouts. It serves as a fun seasonal gathering, but is also the main fundraiser for Troop Triple Nickel's annual Relay for Life team. All proceeds from the breakfast and activities, nearly $3,000, will be donated to the American Cancer Society during Relay for Life.
More than 300 gathered in two sittings to enjoy pancakes, sausage and orange juice at the Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall, happily munching as they awaited the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
As Santa's sleigh approached Jim Thorpe, volunteer DJ Joe Urban turned his broadcast to "live on the roof." Soon the audience heard a tremendous thud and heavy hoofs and boots marching across the roof.
Three merry elves, Frosty the Snowman, and the Christmas Bear arrived first, leading the crowd through "Here Comes Santa Claus." As they sang, Santa and Mrs. Claus entered the room and began greeting children and parents.
Each child was given the chance to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and received a small toy. In true Christmas spirit, Santa knew each child by name and what they wanted for Christmas.
Children and parents also enjoyed a coloring and activity table, bake sale, and Chinese Auction. Bicycles were raffled off for one lucky boy and girl.
Troop Triple Nickel, the official name of the Scouting Relay for Life team, was founded in 2002 by members of Jim Thorpe Boy Scout Troop 555, and has since grown to include many other Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Girl Scout members from Jim Thorpe.
"At that time, three of our parents and one Scout were cancer survivors," said Ray Attewell, leader of Troop 555 and organizer of the event. "Getting involved with the Relay for Life seemed to be the right thing to do."
Their Relay for Life involvement became bittersweet in 2007, when a much-loved adult member of Troop 555 passed away after battling cancer. Troop Triple Nickel launched "We Remember Kathy" buttons that year in memory of Kathy Martino, and many volunteers continued to sport the pins this year.
Because Scouting involves lots of fundraising, the combined troops began Breakfast with Santa in 2004 as their primary Relay for Life fundraiser. Attewell works closely with Sue Urban, the leader of Girl Scout Troop 4229, who works as a nurse and has seen first hand the benefits provided by the American Cancer Society.
"A very important facet of Scouting is community service," said Attewell. "We feel that the breakfast, and then the Relay itself in May, help us to emphasize the values taught in the Scouting programs."
To ensure that donations go directly to Relay for Life, everything from the food to plates, napkins and forks is donated by Troop Triple Nickel members. Dozens of "elves" worked behind the scenes to ensure that food was ready on time and that each child received a toy or stuffed animal after speaking with Santa.
"I'd like to thank all of those that braved the threatening weather and came out once again to support us," added Attewell. "Without them, the breakfast wouldn't be a success."