Santa Land open through Dec. 23
The cold weather did not affect the steady crowd that attended the secnd annual Santa Land during its opening weekend event.
Santa Land offers a lighted train ride that goes around the lake, an Elf village and three hand-made lighted trees that dance to Christmas music, along with carnival rides for the younger kids and middle school aged kids. Food, toys, games and last-minute stocking stuffers were also available for individuals to purchase.
Ryan Hercek and Ryan Collmer put their ideas together last year to put on the first Santa Land at Sun Splash to provide an event for families during the Christmas holiday.
Last year the event attracted approximately 5,500 people, Hercek said, adding they hope to have an upwards of 8,000 people attend this year.
Some changes were made to improve the event this year, which included four more carnival rides, a new bench for the train ride that can hold 24 people, along with almost 35,000 Christmas lights.
“It’s great to have something for Christmas,” he said.
Carolina Wiwchar said they had a decent night Saturday for their opening night despite the weather, which was an improvement from the previous year.
This year, instead of choosing a specific charity, Wiwchar said they decided to benefit local churches. She explained that when individuals bring a church bulletin from St. Andrew Catholic Church and Pine Island Baptist Church a $1 will be given back to the church from the ticket admission.
She said she is very pleased with the event and hopes it will continue to grow and become a great event in the future.
Nikki Jewett, who was volunteering at the Santa Claus attraction, said Saturday night they had a steady crowd of all ages from the time the gates opened at 5 p.m. until it closed at 10 p.m.
“It was really busy last night,” she said. “We took over 200 pictures.
Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus sat in the middle of many Christmas decorations for parents to take pictures. For those who did not have a camera, pictures were taken and printed instantly for them for $5.
“They get to leave with the picture, so it’s nice” Jewett said.
She said that Santa and Mrs. Claus have been phenomenal because they talked to the kids all night, along with being very energetic and great with the kids.
Camila Rifai attended Santa Land with her family for the first time on Sunday. She said she enjoyed it and thought it was really cute.
Rifai shared that once the sun went down she felt it would be better due to all the Christmas lights.
“It is affordable and the kids are loving it,” she said about the event.
Amy Tejeda attended the event with her 2-year-old daughter. She said the event is nice for the younger kids.
“It’s nice that they have something like this,” she said, adding that she will probably come back for the event again next year.
Santa Land will be held daily from 5-10 p.m. until Dec. 23 at Sun Splash Family Waterpark. Gate admission is $2 per person, $1 per ticket for carnival tickets, $3 for the Christmas train ride and $2 for assorted children’s crafts.
Sun Splash is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.