WINTERSVILLE -The kids at the 33rd annual Ray Laman Christmas Party on Saturday cheered when they saw Santa Claus. The bags of treats, fruit and toys weren't that bad either.
More than 150 children and their parents were entertained by Kenny Wells, who led them in sing-alongs. The children also were greeted by Frosty the Snowman, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph, accompanied by several elves.
The party at the Wintersville Fire and Rescue station is sponsored by the Ray Laman Children's Fund. Laman was a 12-year member on Village Council and spent his time in office helping children.
FROSTY — Katelynn Mavromatis of Wintersville is welcomed Saturday at the 33rd annual Ray Laman Christmas Party by Frosty the Snowman and elves, Karlie Ighnat, left, and Destiny Pawlin. More than 150 kids and their parents attended the party. Mark Law
Pam Damos, who oversees the party, said the tradition started back in 1979, when the Wintersville Lions Club held the first event.
"It is a little hectic but rewarding. I really enjoy it," Damos said.
Laman's son, Ed, the current village police chief, said his father was "very Christmas oriented."
"He just loved kids. He wanted to do something for the community," Laman said.
When his father was elected to council, the village took over the party from the Lions Club. Ray Laman ran the party until 1991, when he died. Ed Laman said the party was then named in his father's honor.
Gene Cerra, another village official and resident, worked hard to keep the tradition going until he passed away.
Today, about 60 businesses and individuals donate money to the party.
"A lot of people bring donations to the police station and I make sure the money goes to the party," Laman said.
The appearance by Santa at the end of the party is followed by the children receiving gift bags containing treats, fruit and toys.
"The kids are very appreciative of what they get," Damos said.
Brandon Hanlin of Wintersville said his favorite part of the party is seeing Santa and getting the gift bags.
Laman said any leftover gift bags are donated to Catholic Charities or church groups.
Santa this year was portrayed by the Rev. Kelly Green of the Wintersville Church of the Nazarene.
Green also is a substitute teacher at various schools, including Wintersville Elementary School.
"I know a lot of the kids. Some of the kids will probably freak out if I call them by name," he said with a laugh.
"I absolutely love to do it. It brings joy to the lives of the kids and gives them a little magic. Their faces just light up," he said prior to donning his costume.