Father Christmas visits an Elkin hotel

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

December 16, 2013

Santa Claus returned to the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Friday evening.

Children from Elkin and surrounding towns knew he was coming. They weren’t about to miss it.

“We got the word out. We’re seeing the results,” said Michael Wilson, general manager of the CC Camp hotel. “This is certainly a record breaking crowd.”

Children and families started arriving at 5 p.m. Santa wasn’t expected to start until 6 p.m.

Hundreds of children waited patiently for the jolly elf.

Santa didn’t arrive solo either. He came with his wife, Mrs. Claus.

Mrs. Claus fit the traditional persona of her character. She was kind, white-haired, fit the profile of one capable of baking cookies for Santa, but she also presented a powerful grandmother-like presence of a woman in a leadership position. Mrs. Claus was continuously observed interacting with children and talking with them about respecting values.

“She’s fantastic,” said Joy Martin of Wilkes County. “It’s really special that the hotel would do this. So much attention is given to Santa, but seeing a Mrs. Claus packages up the whole family message. Bravo to who organized this.”

Martin, along with scores of anxious children, made their way into the hotel lobby where more than 20 decorated trees were on display. Christmas tunes played in the background. Families were observed at times singing along.

“I asked him for a bike. I just feel that I can use a bike,” said Jonathan Hudpeth, an 11-year-old from Union Grove. “Santa said that he may also have other things for me.”

Others want the newest version of an Ipod, clothes, for their daddy to come back home from the military, and a few said they wanted love and happiness.

“Preparing for this one day takes months of preparation,” said sales director Matt Delano. “The staff is great. Everyone does something special.”

Not everyone wanted a moment with Father Christmas.

“No thank you,” said Melanie Smith while laughing. Smith was visiting from Mount Airy with her cousins. “I’m like that kid over there crying. You know, the one baby over there in tears because the parents forced the kid on Santa’s lap.”

Smith’s sentiment was in the minority.

Delano paused for a second to take a breath. He was standing behind Santa’s chair. It was after 7 p.m. and the line was still outside and down the western portion of the hotel.

“I can’t believe this crowd,” he said.

Other hotel management and volunteers kept the crowd interested by having a variety of activities after the Santa encounter; they served cookies and cocoa, Mrs. Claus routinely gathered children for readings, and families had an opportunity for professional portraits by ShutterBug Photography Inc.

“We come here every year. It’s such a joyous time and it’s special,” said Kimberly Caudle of Hamptonville, who was watching a photo shoot of her two children, Willow and Melanie. Also watching was her husband, Waylon Caudle, who expressed satisfaction regarding the festivities.

“I love taking the family here. Its great,” said Caudle.

Sue Robinson of Shutterbug Photography said she always looks forward to the Fairfield event.

“I love shooting here. I just want to wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and wonderful New Year,” said Robinson.

Robinson turned her attention back to Willow and Melanie. “Don’t look at his camera. Look right here,” she told the children. Robinson winked. Caudle called her daughter’s name hoping Robinson would be able to capture the perfect snapshot.

Santa Claus was performed by Jerry Prichard and Mrs. Claus was performed by Wanda Prichard.

The Prichard’s not only perform the Christmas characters, but they’re both married to each other.

In talking about the message they both hoped would be delivered this Christmas season, Mrs. Claus paused for a second and expressed that it was important to have faith.

“Never stop believing in Santa. It all begins with what’s in your heart,” said Mrs. Claus.

Santa was more traditional and direct.

“Remember to be good. I am always watching,” he said.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com