BANGOR, Maine — The weather was dreary on Saturday, but inside Santa’s Main Street workshop, all was bright and welcoming. Gaily wrapped packages surrounded Santa’s throne and cheerful holiday music filled the air.
Dressed in their red-velvet best, Santa and Mrs. Claus stood at the big plate glass window, smiling and waving at passers-by, many of whom were headed to the Children’s Discovery Museum across the rainy downtown street.
“Regardless of the economy, everyone wants to make sure the children have a good Christmas,” observed Mrs. Claus. To that end, the jolly couple will be welcoming visitors every Saturday between noon and 3 p.m., from now until Christmas. The workshop is located at 115 Main St., between the Best Bib and Tucker clothing store and the Penobscot Theater. Parents are encouraged to bring a camera to record their youngsters’ visit.
On Saturday, 6-year-old Carter Canarr of Glenburn leaned comfortably against Santa’s knee and confided that he hopes to find a “Bakugan” transforming action-figure warrior and a “Magic Tree House” chapter book waiting for him on Christmas morning.
While the specifics change from year to year, toys, games and books remain the “old standbys” at Christmas, Santa said later.
Carter’s 15-year-old sister Rhiannon had her picture taken with Santa, but did not share her holiday wish list with him.
The youngsters’ mother, Judy Canarr, said she brought them downtown to do some shopping away from the holiday crowds.
“We’re avoiding the mall,” she said.
Listening to what children dream of finding under the tree and in their stockings is just part of Santa’s mission, according to Shirar Patterson, coordinator of the Downtown Center Corp., which is sponsoring the Clauses’ visit.
By offering a variety of holiday activities for children and families, the organization hopes to attract shoppers to downtown stores and restaurants, she said. People who stop in to see Santa will receive a discount card redeemable at a half-dozen downtown spots, ranging from Top Shelf Comics and Java Joe’s coffee shop on Central Street to the Charles Inn at West Market Square.
Next Saturday afternoon during the Festival of Lights parade and the downtown tree-lighting ceremony, children and families may participate in a scavenger hunt, also aimed at attracting business to the downtown, Patterson said.
Santa said concerns about H1N1 should not keep families away from his workshop. His personal physician has recommended that his spotless white gloves be washed daily through the Christmas season and that any children with sniffles or other mild respiratory symptoms sit in a special chair beside him rather than in his lap.
On the Web: www.downtownbangor.com