By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Whirlwind Weekend Stop For Santa Claus Downtown
Local families both large and small gathered to take their turns taking photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Plaza del Rio Park in downtown Riverbank on Saturday, Dec. 21. Although it was the first official day of winter, temperatures were moderate, with overcast skies. Ric McGinnis/The News

Riverbank youngsters ... and their families ... had cause to smile when Santa Claus made a quick, special trip to the downtown area to pose for photographs. It was a kind of ‘make up’ trip, since his regular appearance at the Christmas Fair and Parade was thwarted this year by high winds and rain the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Santa and Mrs. Claus made the brief stop at the Plaza del Rio Park, for two hours midday on Saturday over the past weekend.

There he was, stationed as usual, just in front of the community Christmas tree that is a centerpiece of the park, and his normal location when the community’s holiday parade is on. The lighted tree was just behind his special seat, although, since it was daytime, the lights weren’t on.

Families brought their children of all ages to sit on Santa’s lap, presumably to tell if they’ve been naughty or nice, and maybe whisper a request for that special gift this year. Occasionally, though, the participant may have been just slightly too young to appreciate the event, shying away from the strangely dressed man with the big white beard.

Undoubtedly, though, even those photos will make for treasured memories later on.

One family even brought their four-legged ‘fur baby’ for pictures, and he didn’t seem to mind the hoopla one bit.

Mrs. Claus handed out candy canes to all who participated.

Even Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien and Vice Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez were on hand and got their pictures snapped with the jolly old elf.

Barber-Martinez also was there to help out with her Central Valley Community Resources group of volunteers who were providing hot chocolate and churros to those who stopped by.

After the brief, two-hour event, Santa and wife were reported to have scurried back to the North Pole to supervise finishing touches on this year’s crop of toys being crafted in the workshop, just in time to make deliveries for the Christmas holiday.

A refreshment stand of sorts was set up on the sidewalk next to the Plaza del Rio Park in downtown Riverbank during the visit of Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday, Dec. 21. The free refreshments, hot chocolate and churros, were provided by volunteers from Central Valley Community Resources, a local non-profit group organized by Vice Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez. Ric McGinnis/The News