Santa arrived at the Rochester Boys and Girls Club by ambulance Friday night, and after being mobbed by dozens of kids, he might have needed the ambulance to transport him back north.
The occasion was the 18th annual holiday party at the club, but this one was extra-special, according to Chad Campbell, chief operating officer at the club.
"The community came to us and said we want to do this for you, and that's inspiring to see," Campbell said.
Mayo Clinic purchased gifts for every kid at the club, the Elks Club supplied a holiday feast for kids and their families, Scheel's provided winter coats, and Titan Development and Courtesy Corp. donated gift cards for families. Other local organizations also chipped in.
"They're bringing a whole lot of resources to people's lives," Campbell said.
In addition to the meal, and the visit from Santa, club members put on a talent show for families.
In recent weeks club members were asked to fill out a wish list for gifts. "A lot of the kids put down gifts for their parents, gifts their parents would like," Campbell said.
"Our Keystone Club went out and did the shopping, and then wrapped them all," he said.
Keirsten Larson, a member of the Keystone Club leadership group at the club, was one of the gift-wrappers. She said it took three people nearly two hours to wrap all the gifts.
All that time, she said, "I was thinking a lot of kids are going to be happy."
The talent show consisted of several dance numbers, choreographed to Christmas songs like "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Sleigh Bells."
Dancing in a couple of numbers was Liana Perteete. "I just like to have fun and entertain everybody," she said.
Another club member, Stevie Bauman, said he was inspired to dance by his older sister, Maren, who was also in the show, and he wants to do the same for others. "I like when the kids are inspired by it, and want to do it," he said.
After the show, the kids had a surprise waiting for them. Flashing red lights in the parking lot were an indication Santa had arrived.
And it wasn't too chilly for everyone to run out without coats and hats to greet the big guy.
"This one's a bit more special," Campbell said of the party.