By SHIRLEY PULAWSKI
OBSERVER Staff Writer
FORESTVILLE - The Forestville Fire Hall was packed with smiling faces waiting for a chance to sit down and share Christmas wishes with Santa on Saturday evening.
OBSERVER Photos by Shirley Pulawski
MacKenzy Graziano, freshly shaved from Bald for Bucks, sat down with Santa Saturday night in Forestville.
For over 30 years, Santa has been coming to the fire hall to the delight of families in the village. Every year, he leaves the North Pole to make his rounds to children around the world, and in his own mysterious fashion, makes his way to Forestville after visiting Tonawanda around this time of year.
Santa's reindeer were hidden from sight, but two horses, provided by Doug and Linda Fairbanks, were on hand to trot visitors around the village.
Inside the hall, guests enjoyed hot chocolate and baked goods, while children decorated wooden ornaments donated by Ray Woodward, who cut out hundreds of ornaments for the event. Paint and glitter were set up at a station where children could personalize their ornaments.
The Forestville Youth and Recreation program makes the visit possible, but not without a lot of help. The Venture Crew, a youth firefighter team sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, helps out with setting up and by selling baked goods.
The Venture Crew is for boys and girls ages 14 and up in Forestville and Sheridan fire districts. December is its recruiting month with the goal of bringing in more kids to work alongside firefighters and assist on fire scenes. "The kids learn everything about the trucks inside and out," Venture Crew leader Dawn Espersen explained.
"They're an integral part of (a fire) scene and know the trucks and the tools and work right alongside firefighters."
Espersen said the crew sells baked goods and conducts other fund raisers to pay for their own firefighting gear and field trips, which include excursions to emergency centers around the county.
The Forestville Youth and Recreation Department extends thanks and gratitude for all of the help for the event from the fire department, Michelle Harvey, Julie Harris, Wendy Mendez, Doug and Linda Fairbanks, Ray Woodward, Carol Woodward, candy donations from Chum and Beth Bowker, Kayla Kohler for taking pictures and Jennifer Kohler for printing the pictures, and to future firefighters, Mitchell Harris and Hunter Peebles.