By JEAN HAVENS
Even though this is Santa Claus’ busiest time of year, he made managed to stop in Tahlequah Saturday morning.
The Breakfast With Santa fundraising event, sponsored by Tahlequah Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization, was held at Chili’s Restaurant, which served more than 300 people this year.
PTO member Jennifer Patrick sold tickets at this year’s affair, and said people were anxious to get there early.
“We were still putting baskets on the table and setting up when people began lining up at the door, ready to eat,” said Patrick.
Patrick believes the event has become a tradition in Tahlequah.
“I think the community expects it every year now,” she said.
Nikki Limore and her 9-year-old son, Dex, came to enjoy the festivities. Dex said he was going to tell Santa about his “Elf on the Shelf,” who reports back to Santa about what’s going on at home.
“The elf made an air balloon out of a pair of my underwear,” Dex said, with a grin.
Becky Shepherd and her family enjoy attending the fundraiser.
“We try to come every year,” she said. “The kids love it, and it’s a good fundraiser for the middle school.”
Shepherd’s 6-year-old son, Tate, asked for a go-cart.
“Santa said OK,” Tate said.
Stephen Highers, father of 14-month-old Jack, also said that Breakfast With Santa was a great opportunity for people to come out, have breakfast, and support TMS. It was Jack’s first encounter with the jolly old elf.
“He knows what presents are and that Santa brings them, but not who Santa is yet,” said Highers.
Laura Boren also brought her two children to the event.
“What I like about this year’s event is the middle school students are helping and participating,” Boren said. “It gives TMS students an incentive to help their school, and it’s a learning experience for them.”
Jennifer Davis, a junior at Northeastern State University and Chili’s employee worked with the TMS PTO to organize the event as part of her capstone project for her degree in hospitality and tourism management.
Davis estimated they had served somewhere between 300 and 400 people.
“It’s been crazy, in a good way,” Davis said. “We’ve had a constant flow since 7 a.m.”
According to Davis, breakfast was made by Chili’s employees, while PTO parents and TMS students served customers.
“The parents were great, and helpful,” Davis said. “They were game to do anything.”
Davis said Chili’s area director volunteered to play Santa that morning.
“He’s a busy man, so it’s great he took time to help us out,” Davis said.
The event also included a gift basket silent auction.
Sharon McClure, a TMS fifth-grade teacher, said each teacher comes up with a theme and request items from the parents of their students to fill the themed basket.
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