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Children savor breakfast with Santa at Mill Creek gardens

Correspondent photo / Sean Barron.... Liliana Pennachio, 1, looks with wonder at Santa Claus, who was the guest of honor for Saturday’s annual Breakfast with Santa gathering at the Davis Education and Visitor Center in Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens. Also enjoying quality time with St. Nick is Liliana’s brother, Lorenzo, 5.

YOUNGSTOWN — Lucia DePalma’s No. 1 Christmas gift request may require an added dose of creativity and ingenuity on the part of Santa Claus and his busy toy-making elves.

“She wants an Isla’s necklace for Christmas,” Lucia’s mother, Katie, said.

The item, from the film “Barbie Dolphin Magic,” is named after Isla, a mermaid who uses the purple and blue necklace to magically convert her tail to human legs.

For his part, St. Nick used his magic and gift for traveling long distances in short times to be the guest of honor for the annual Breakfast with Santa gathering Saturday morning at Inspired Catering by Kravitz, in the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave., on the West Side.

Santa also stayed for a second 90-minute seating Saturday afternoon at the center.

The holiday-themed, family-friendly event, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a favorite pastime for Katie, of Poland, who also plans to take Lucia to see “The Nutcracker” at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh as an added holiday treat. The occasion will mark Lucia’s first trip to the city, her mother said.

First, however, Lucia enjoyed getting acquainted with Santa, as did her younger sister, Vivian, 1, both of whom were among the children who sat on his lap and made their Christmas gift requests known.

The breakfast is a tradition for Lucia, her mother and several other family members that include Lucia’s father, Joe DePalma, and her grandparents, Bob and Gloria Farrow of Poland.

“This is very festive and gets you in the mood,” Katie said about the breakfast. “It’s a very positive and cheery environment.”

St. Nick also seemed to hold fast to a cheerful mood, despite making his presence on a day devoid of snow and with temperatures in the low 60s that was more reminiscent of Easter than Christmas.

For those who have spent Christmases past wondering how St. Nick can climb down chimneys year after year with aplomb, perhaps Lorenzo Pennachio of Liberty has the answer.

“Santa has magic,” Lorenzo, 5, observed. “He shrinks when he goes down the chimney.”

During his one-on-one time with St. Nick, Lorenzo asked for a self-balancing scooter for himself and a doll for younger sister, Liliana, 1, he said.

For Lorenzo’s mother, Cassie, this Christmas will be extra special for more than a different chimney for Santa’s to slide down.

“We’re actually having Christmas in our new house this year,” Cassie said, adding that the family moved last year from Warren.

On Christmas day, things likely will fall more into lockstep with tradition, because Cassie, her husband, Dante, and the two children will be spending time with others that includes extended family members from out of town, Cassie continued.

An estimated 150 people attended the family favorite holiday breakfast, Patty Rydarowicz, Inspired Catering’s senior events coordinator, said. The event also was in partnership with Fellows Riverside Gardens, she added.

The breakfast menu consisted of an omelet and waffle bar, along with bacon, bagels and other traditional foods.

Providing the musical entertainment were members of the Liberty High School choir, who offered their interpretations of popular Christmas tunes such as “Jingle Bells” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The students also provided a few dance numbers, including to the song “Santa Baby.”

news@vindy.com

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