Hundreds show up to see Santa at the Fairgrounds

Hundreds show up to see Santa at the Fairgrounds
Families packed the Harrison County Fairgrounds Friday night for the chance to see Santa. (Source: WLOX)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippians are continuing to get into the spirit of the holidays, which was alive and well at the Harrison County Fairgrounds Friday night.

Hundreds of people lined up to get a picture with Santa and to enjoy hot chocolate, popcorn and a beautiful light display.

Gulfport resident Matrim Panell braved the chilly temperatures and long line with his family to see what he calls the most important person of the holidays.

"I feel overjoyed. It is cold too.  It's cold but it's exciting because Santa is a big part of my life," said Panell. "I'll always believe in Santa. I'll never give up my belief."

Not everyone was quite as happy to see Santa but volunteers at the event were very pleased to allow the opportunity.

"Some families don't get to have a Christmas like other families," said volunteer Jourdan Hartshorn. "Some families can't even get presents."

"It gives families, especially out here in the country, because some don't want to drive all the way to town, an opportunity to do something to do something and it's free," said Harrison County supervisor Angel Middleton. "This facility is awesome, and we're putting it to good use. It's good for our local folks to come, and if they hear about it in Slidell or Mobile, we're glad to provide this service for everyone."

Organizers say more than a thousand people had their picture with Santa taken last year at the event, and they expect this year's numbers to be similar. They also say the night was made possible by Allen Hyundai, along with the Harrison County Board of Supervisors.

"It's just neat seeing all these kids. They're all bundled up with their families together and not in front of the TV, but out in the community having a good time," said Middleton. "Our Santa is awesome. He's the best one around. He loves these kids and talks to each of them."

Hartshorn says putting on the "Santa Night at the Fairgrounds" is a labor of love for volunteers, and they work year round to make it a success.

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