Santa Project drive-thru sees positive turnout

CHICO — The Santa Project drive-thru event at Community Park saw a big turnout on Dec. 9.

The drive-thru event featured gift bags, music and Santa Claus at the end. The event was presented by the Chico Area Recreation and Park District with the Soroptimist International of Bidwell Rancho-Chico.

The goody bags were for children ages 2-12 on a first come, first serve basis until supplies ran out. There were 170 goody bags prepared for the Santa Project. Cars started lining up for the event at 5:30 p.m., but 6 p.m. was the scheduled time for the event to start.

Linda Lucena, president of the Soroptimist International of Bidwell Rancho-Chico, said that there was a bigger turnout this year than she had anticipated. This was the second year that they were doing the event drive-thru style. Lucena said they did the event as a drive-thru again for COVID-19 safety reasons.

“We’re a little overwhelmed; we had great publicity,” Lucena said. “We have a great turnout this year — bigger than last year.”

Kids who attended the event got to wave at Santa Claus on the way out. Lucena said all of the goody bags were age appropriate. Inspire S-Club from Inspire Charter High School also attended the event and helped hand out goody bags.

The drive-thru ended up starting a little early at 5:50 p.m. with Christmas music playing and members from CARD and Soroptimist International of Bidwell Rancho-Chico dancing around.

The last goody bag was given out at 6:25 p.m., but other items, such as Christmas themed headbands, were given out to children once the bags had started to run out.

Erin Gonzales, the recreation supervisor for CARD, said that she has seen more people come out this year.

“It’s super exciting and great to see the kids face when they drive by, the joy in their face,” Gonzales said. “They’re definitely excited to be here and everyone’s been super appreciative.”

She said that they already had about 20 cars within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the event starting. Gonzales said that the Soroptimist International of Bidwell Rancho-Chico get all of the goody bags together and the Chico Area Recreation and Park District sets up the event and decorates tog et everything festive.

“It’s kind of a cool partnership between card and the soroptimist together to put on the event,” Gonzales said.

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