Santa and one of his favorite reindeer have been visiting the little courtyard in uptown Cattaraugus for about six years now, and with each year, the number of participants has grown.
Recently, the gathering saw the biggest crowd ever, with more 250 youth sharing their Christmas lists with Santa Claus. After a personal chat with Santa, each child returned home with a little bag of goodies.
Businesses adjoining the courtyard (the bank of Cattaraugus and Murphy's Gourmet) helped out by preparing and serving hot cocoa and popcorn to the waiting crowd. In addition, Marc Pritchard was on hand to snap individual photos of every child's time with Santa. These Christmas mementos are available at Pritchard's Hardware, at no charge to parents.
Across Main Street from the courtyard, the Cattaraugus Free Library once again coordinated its Christmas open house with Santa's visit. A library spokesperson said that they passed out cookies and presents to about 175 children from 4-7 p.m. All in all, the kids fared pretty well that afternoon.
A Cattaraugus police officer remained at the scene throughout Santa's visit, keeping a sharp eye out for everyone's safety, while children and their parents criss-crossed Main Street (Route 353) between the courtyard and the library.