Dressed in what can only be described as the trendiest look of the holiday season, Santa wore red velvet pants trimmed in white and a matching jacket and hat. The jolly portly figure rode in on an all-terrain vehicle surrounded by law enforcement and trailed by children of all ages, eager to get a photo with the worldwide celebrity in his busiest time of the year.
In an unprecedented move, Mission city employees banded together to organize the event, a toy giveaway for the community’s children in its 12th year on Friday, Dec. 20. Until this year, the event was organized solely by the Mission Police Department. It was made possible through the work of city employees, organizations like Crime Stoppers and donations from area businesses and members of the community. Even the entertainment was donated.
“It’s grown,” City Manager Martin Garza said. “What makes this a magnificent event is that partnership. We can’t do this without sponsorships, without the community involvement.”
Families were able to register ahead of time at area recreation centers. They were given a number to pick up a bag full of presents for each child in the family. The bags were packed ahead time with corresponding gifts for the children’s ages and genders. Some lucky children went home with a shiny new bicycle. Those were given out based on need, a member of Crime Stoppers said.
More than 300 families registered ahead of time, and extra presents were wrapped and on standby for children who hadn’t been able to register before the event.
Garza expected to give out 1,000 gifts in all, and he hoped this year’s giveaway marked the beginning of a bigger and better annual event.
“The idea here is to bring a smile to not only to the children of Mission, but we’re catering to the western part of Hidalgo County,” Garza said. “We have been a blessed city, and we’re wanting to share that with the rest of the city.”