Santa swings by Alex Bay with presents in tow for children

Published: Dec. 17, 2022 at 5:09 PM EST
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ALEXANDRIA BAY, New York (WWNY) - Lining the streets, and wrapped around buildings in Alexandria Bay, folks and their four-legged friends were ready for the festivities as the village celebrated its 7th Annual River Santa Festival.

“My heart could burst. I feel like the Grinch’s heart times 10 today,” said volunteer Karen Rockoff.

Guests were treated to hot chocolate, freshly baked cookies, and classic Christmas movies, all completely free of charge.

“Everything is free. The food is free, the drinks are free. Everything is free,” said organizer Doug Tulloch.

The festival’s main attraction, and the reason for the long lines: Jolly Old Saint Nick.

Father Christmas came in on a boat, escorted by the US Coast Guard as a crowd eagerly anticipated his arrival.

After sharing their Christmas wishes, kids twelve and under received a wrapped gift from Santa and his helpers.

“Doesn’t matter which neighborhood they’re from. Anything. They all believe. That whole line all the way around the corner. They all believe and that’s what this is about,” said Tulloch.

“The spirit of Christmas really lives on after the festival. The joy in these little faces today is amazing. The spirit really lives on throughout the year,” said Rockoff.

And what about the man himself? Well, before he sat down and started giving out gifts, we got the chance to speak to Santa who tells us, he’s having a great time in the bay.

“We flew in last night. I went to like 3 or 4 restaurants and ate all of their cookies. Then I came here to see everybody this morning. I ate half of their cookies and they had to go make more. It’s been a great time and all of the kids greeting me here. It’s been spectacular,” said Santa Claus.

At the end of the day, hundreds of gifts were given out that were paid for by fundraising efforts.

Event organizers say they will donate the additional $33,000 dollars raised to local food pantry’s and backpack programs.