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Christmas spirit not stolen by rain
Harper St. John
Three-year-old Harper St. John of Ceres wore a festive holiday bow in her hair as she engaged in writing a letter to Santa and other pen and paper activities at Saturday evening’s Ceres Christmas Festival. The event moved indoors to the Ceres Community Center from Smyrna Park on account of the rain. Harper’s parents brought her to the event, which led to the opening of Christmas Tree Lane. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Families didn’t let the rain and intermittent drizzle put a damper on their celebration of Christmas Saturday evening during the annual Ceres Christmas Festival. Expecting the weather to be rainy, the city adjusted plans and hosted an indoor event with activities inside the Ceres Community Center rather than outdoor at Smyrna Park.

The parade went on as planned to officially open up Christmas Tree Lane at 7:15 p.m.

Inside the center, families waited in line to pose for pictures with Santa Claus, who had a strong resemblance to newly elected Councilman Daniel Martinez as Mrs. Claus – played by Councilwoman-elect Rosalinda Vierra – handed out candy canes.

“We decided to put them to work on an easy job,” joked Mayor Javier Lopez, “but the hard work is coming up.”

Martinez, Vierra and James Casey will take their oath of office next Monday, Dec. 12.

Alex and Francis Harrison brought their one-year-old daughter Hermoine to visit with Santa.

“She’s obsessed with Santa,” said Francis when quizzed as to why her daughter was intently gazing into Santa’s eyes. “We’ve been watching him on TV.”

In the next room, a tableful of young kids, including three-year-old Harper St. John, were writing letters to Santa and other activities. Around tables, families visited over free cookies and hot chocolate supplies by the city of Ceres Recreation Department.

Some vendors sold their wares as members of the Ceres Women’s Club sold packages of their home-baked cookies.

A crowd braved the inclement weather for the opening night stroll down Christmas Tree Lane on Henry Avenue and Vaughn Street and along Caswell Avenue and Leslie Lane.

The Christmas spirit continues with the Ceres Police Officers’ Association’s Christmas Toy Drive through Dec. 16. Officers are asking the public to participate in making a needy child’s Christmas experience memorable by donating new and unwrapped toys. Drop-off barrels are at the Ceres Police Department, 2727 Third Street; Sam’s Café, 3052 Fifth Street; Mr. Taquito, 1240 E. Whitmore Ave.; Ace Hardware, 2531 E. Whitmore Ave.; Jenny’s, 1450 E. Hatch Road; and Dollar General, 940 E. Whitmore Avenue and 2531 E. Whitmore Ave.

Hermoine Harrison
Hermoine Harrison, 1, looked very trusting as she sat in the lap of Santa Claus played by newly elected Councilman Daniel Martinez, who was a last-minute replacement. Her father, Alex is at right. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Rosalinda Vierra as Mrs. Claus
Councilwoman-Elect Rosalinda Vierra plays Mrs. Claus and hands out candy canes. - photo by Jeff Benziger