By Kelsey Givens
Santa and Mrs. Claus made an early holiday stop in Beatty this weekend to bring gifts to more than 100 children outside of the festively decorated Happy Burro Chili & Beer.
Fred and Patti Summers, owners of the Happy Burro, and their family hosted an event Saturday to give local children and those from nearby communities the chance to meet the famous Santa Claus and receive and early gift, before his big night on Dec. 24.
“Every child needs to say hi to Santa, everybody does. And it’s just something we feel very strongly about,” Patti said. “And it’s not just for the ones who don’t have anything either, it’s not just for special needs children or anything else, it’s for all of the kids,” she added.
Children of all ages lined up on the sidewalk around 1 p.m. that afternoon in eager anticipation of meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, played by Fred and Patti, to see what they had brought them from their workshop in the North Pole.
Sitting on their front porch, which was decorated like a large giant gift, and dressed in the traditional red and white outfits of the season, Mr. and Mrs. Claus took time to personally greet each child who came to see them, before having one of their helpers walk into their home and bring out an age-appropriate gift for that child.
From teddy bears to basketballs to Spiderman, even Twilight-themed presents, there were a variety of toys for children of all ages, from zero to 18.
“We even have aftershave and cologne for some of the older boys, the teenagers,” Patti said.
Looking inside the Summers’ home where Santa was keeping the toys he brought to give away, it was clear the family made sure to get enough presents to supply every child in Beatty with a toy.
Neatly stacked piles and boxes filled with all sorts of different gifts took up much of their living room — a fact the family didn’t seem to mind.
“There’s about 120 kids in the schools here so we shopped to meet around that number,” Patti said.
Many of the gifts Santa planned to give out on Saturday were purchased by the Summers several weeks ago during two shopping trips in Pahrump.
“Walmart, they’ve been great. They gave us a $50 gift certificate to help with this and the kids here,” Patti said. “They’ve just been fantastic, and they even opened up special lanes for us to get out, because it was about six of us that went shopping, and we just all went in at the same time and had our list. And everyone went a different way to get what we needed. And we also went to Walgreens, they were also excellent with us as well.”
Though it is not inexpensive to buy that many toys, especially around the holidays, Fred and Patti said they are able to pay to do this for the children of Beatty through several fundraisers and help from the community.
Between a pasta sauce contest that the Happy Burro organized, a bicycle raffle and donations, the Summers were able to purchase enough gifts to give something to everyone who came to see them.
“No child will leave without something,” Fred said.
And the hard work and dedication the Summers put into raising money and buying gifts for this event seemed to pay off, as more than 70 children came to see Santa in just a little over the first hour.
By the time Mr. and Mrs. Claus said their final goodbye around 4 p.m., they had seen and visited with 102 children in just three hours.
Though there were still many toys left in the Summers’ living room once Mr. and Mrs. Claus had gone, the couple said they won’t go to waste.
“Next week the fire department has their Christmas give-a-way and what we don’t give away today, we’ll give away there,” Fred said. “And, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be there also giving those presents away. Anything we still have left after that we’ll hold onto until next year, to feed the pot so to speak.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making another appearance in Beatty this Friday at 6 p.m. at the community center in support of the local fire department.