Santa Land is Tuesday at the Black River Coliseum

Friday, December 3, 2021
A child visits with Santa.
DAR file photo/Michael Shine

Santa Claus is coming to town for the 18th annual Santa Land celebration 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Black River Coliseum.

Poplar Bluff Parks and Recreation program director Kennedy Thayer explained this is the second year the department has organized the event. She expects to see a marked difference between this and last year, noting the pandemic made families wary of visiting.

“I think last year we had 400 total, but I think this year will be a little bit bigger,” she said.

The generosity of local businesses means there is an abundance of booths for children to visit with crafts, prizes and snacks.

“This year, we’ve got 27 local businesses that are going to have booths there, and the registrations keep rolling in. So I think it’ll be a good year,” said Thayer.

The Parks Department is utilizing the same time slot model they created last year, and families must call ahead to 573-686-8645 to reserve their entry time. Before the main event is a 5:30-6 p.m. slot for special needs kids. General entry time slots are 6-6:30 p.m., 6:30-7 p.m., 7-7:30 p.m. and 7:30-8 p.m. Thayer explained staggering attendance helps manage crowds, reduce COVID-19 risk and ensures every child gets time with Santa.

Young visitors will receive a passport. When their passport has been marked by every station they can present them to staff for a photo with Santa.

There will also be raffles every session thanks to donations from St. Francis Healthcare, B&W Lawn Supply and Ozark Federal Credit Union.

Organizers request attendees mask up to protect kids and the community at large.

“We are strongly encouraging that everyone wear masks or facial coverings,” said Thayer. “Since it’s primarily families and children, we want to keep all the kids safe and the community safe for this holiday season. It would be terrible for everyone to get sick for Christmas.”

The parks department, contributing businesses and children alike are looking forward to the event. Thayer is grateful for the effort and generosity that have made it possible.

“I just want to thank all of our committee members. We’ve been meeting since July and planning this event out. And I really appreciate all the local businesses and partners that helped to create this free and fun event for the community for the holiday season,” she said.

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