HEALDTON—Riding in on a motorcycle instead of his normal red sleigh, Santa Clause climbed off the chopper and into the arms of dozens of awaiting students.
The students gathered at the entrance of the Healdton Armory on Thursday as Santa was delivered on a motorcycle by Healdton superintendent Terry Shaw for Healdton’s Winter Wonderland. The event is a carnival style Christmas event hosted by the Healdton FCCLA. The students received ornaments, a present from Santa himself, snacks, stories from Mrs. Claus and tons of other Christmas themed activities.
“It’s amazing to be able to do something like this for our kids and our community,” Terry Shaw, Healdton superintendent, said. “It’s just fortunate in our community that we get to do something like this.”
The Winter Wonderland is in its second year at Healdton and Healdton FCCLA advisor Amy Worsham said the event has only grown since last year. She said the event is always a highlight for all the students involved.
“It’s real important because our high school kids are learning empathy and patience,”  Worsham said. “And the younger kids, these are their role models. I’ve heard ‘hero’ so many times today.”
Worsham said the importance of every stop at each booth at the event is evident in the eyes of the children, who get to spend time with the high schoolers they grow up wanting to emulate.
“The kids get a lot of one-on-one attention from the high school kids so this is just building good Christmas memories,” she said. “Christmas can be hard on a lot of families so the kids just love it.”
“It just seems like it’s so much more,” Jessica Miller, who had a child helping with the Wonderland and a child participating in the event, said. “It gets bigger and better every year. The children love it and the big kids love it.”
Elementary students went through the different stations at the Armory on Thursday before being greeted by a sound outside the steel, pull up door of the building. Though instead of  sleigh bells on the roof, the purr of a motorcycle engine could be heard echoing from the distance.
As the doors were opened and light poured into the Armory, a motorcycle carrying Santa Claus himself emerged and the children welcomed St. Nick with plenty of hugs and cheers.
“It was awesome,” Kelli Miller, Jessica’s daughter, said. “He was riding a motorcycle!”
Shaw, who drove Santa in on the motorcycle, said from his perspective seeing the children emerge from the building to greet Santa was the ultimate sign that the Wonderland had successfully brought Christmas to every student at Healdton Elementary.
“It’s been wonderful,” Shaw said. “Everybody gets involved and our student body is so involved and dedicated.
“And I think Santa enjoyed it just as much as they kids did.”