By Kaylee Lindenmuth | firstname.lastname@example.org
SHENANDOAH - Santa and his elves made quite an entrance into the Shenandoah Valley Friday afternoon for the unofficial kickoff to Christmastime in the Anthracite region, the Shenandoah Santa Drop.
Sponsored by Mrs. T's Pierogies, the event is in its 13th year in its current form. The event has been a tradition in Shenandoah for decades, but lapsed until Mrs. T's resurrected it in its current form.
"We're just parts of it," Mrs. T's owner Tom Twardzik said of his company organizing the event. "We're willing and happy participants."
Twardzik said the event has grown since it returned, beginning with just Santa, then Santa and an elf, then Santa and two elves parachuting, plus Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman on the ground.
This year, the first 200 children received a free gift, which included a toy and Mrs. T's gloves.
"I think it's a stroke of genius," said Twardzik of the glove idea. "They noticed that a lot of the kids would come down without gloves, so now they'll have nice, warm Mrs. T's gloves."
A few hundred area residents came out for the festivities, which included face painting, hot chocolate, and a DJ.
Recent Mrs. T's contest winner Kayla Goff, named the company's Chief Pierogy Officer was on hand for the event as well.
"When I won, part of winning wasn't to come and meet anybody, but since I was in the area, I said 'hey, if you want me to come by and get a photo or anything, I could,'" Goff told the Sentinel. "They then set up a huge tour of the facility and had a meet-and-greet and tasting for me -- that wasn't part of the package, they literally just did that since I said I was in the area -- then while I was in the office, they mentioned this, and I thought it sounded cool."
Goff was in the area and was Black Friday shopping when she decided to stop by the event.
Following the skydive, Santa boarded the Polish American Fire Company's antique Seagrave engine and joined in the annual Christmas parade, which made it's way up West Centre Street to Main Street, then from there to the Damato Post on North Main Street.
The parade originally included the Shenandoah Police Department, Shenandoah Valley Marching Band, all five Shenandoah fire companies plus West Mahanoy Township companies, but the Shenandoah Fire Department broke away for a structure fire on West Coal Street.
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