Enjoying the outdoors with Santa and his volunteer helpers | NevadaAppeal.com

Enjoying the outdoors with Santa and his volunteer helpers

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Santa Claus helps Seth Rotoli, 3, open his candycane at the Christmas at the Park celebration at Washoe Lake State Park on Saturday.

During his break from the gig at the mall Saturday, Santa picked up his wife, Mrs. Claus, and took a little drive out to Washoe Lake State Park.

“Boy,” he said as he played confidant of local boys and girls. “Is it pretty out here.”

Joined by some 200 visitors from Carson and Reno in a heated tent, Santa not only enjoyed the crisp air, hot cocoa and homemade cupcakes with the rest of the holiday revelers, but said he found a little bit of the spirit of the “old-Nevada Christmas” somewhere in there as well.

And he wasn’t alone.

Carson residents Trevor and Tessa Rotoli brought their young charge Seth, 3, to see “Santa in the outdoors.”

Trevor, a former Washoe Valley resident said visiting the state park a week before Christmas and “just getting to be outside – when so much of the holidays are spent inside” was a welcome change.

“I don’t think we’d want to introduce (Seth) to Santa any other way,” he said.

“Our family’s out in Washoe (Valley,)” Tessa continued. “We live in Carson – but it’s so close and always great to be out here – like home.”

If home means children by the dozens dancing around snow-topped meadows while the Northern Nevada sun came out to play with them on a day when temperatures climbed into the high-30s, then all who came were able to revel in the comforts of it.

“I think this is just a great thing to have out here,” said Sparks resident Danielle Mullins, who accompanied her daughter Elizabeth, 7, and son Tyler, 2, to the Christmas at the Park celebration. Mullins said the day, which also featured ornament making and arts and crafts, is something she and her family wouldn’t dare miss.

“It is a nice alternative to being indoors,” she said.

“I don’t like being cold,” Elizabeth said, taking a bite of cupcake and sprinkling glitter on a piece of green construction paper. “But I’m not cold here. How could I be.”

Tyler, while loathe to make a statement with words, handed his mother his fleece and proceeded to spin in celebratory circles after whispering sweet Christmas Day wishes into Santa’s ear.

“Yeah, I think there’s no place he’d rather be,” Danielle said.

Washoe Lake State Park supervisor Domenic Bravo, who touted Saturday’s celebration as “the best, with the most volunteer help” in the three-year history of the event, said he was glad people from Reno and Carson City alike could enjoy the celebration.

“We’re centrally located between the two (towns),” he said. “Which means we’re easy to get to. I think people come out here for the first time for an event like this, and they want to come back.”

Bravo got helping hands from many off-duty park employees Saturday also who donated money that went to purchasing the food and craft supplies out-of-pocket.

“I think everyone that (works) here deserves a lot of credit, this is a celebration we are proud of,” he said. “With (parks) budgets the way they are, we need the volunteer help we get to pull this off.

“And I’d say today – we did just that.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.