By Donald Wittkowski
The folks at the Ocean City Historical Museum and the Ocean City Free Public Library must have some serious clout up at the North Pole.
Not only were they able to get Santa Claus to make a personal appearance Sunday at the annual Ocean City Community Center Holiday Festival, they also snagged Mrs. Claus.
Santa made a dramatic entrance, shimmying and dancing his way down the stairs – sorry, no chimney was available – to greet all of the adoring children eagerly awaiting his arrival.
As a rock band played a thumping beat, an energetic Santa hugged and high-fived the children while welcoming everyone to a tree-lighting ceremony outside the library doors.
In contrast to her rock star-like husband, Mrs. Claus sat quietly in the museum’s sedate surroundings. Her duties for the day included overseeing the sales at Mrs. Claus’ Market, a collection of vintage Christmas ornaments and other holiday memorabilia.
“I’m so busy, too, making the cookies and supervising the elves,” Mrs. Claus said.
Standing in line at the library, children waited patiently for the chance to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him their Christmas wish lists.
“Have you been a good little girl?” Santa asked 3-year-old Lena Graham as she approached him with wide-eyed wonder.
“Yeah,” Lena replied.
Then she told Santa that she wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine toy for Christmas.
Her mother, Rosalind Graham, of Pleasantville, simply smiled.
Scarlett Marshall, 5, a kindergartner at the Ocean City Primary School, was getting ready for Santa while standing in line with her mother, Joy Kolitsky, of Ocean City.
“I want a Hatchimal, a Pink Puppy Computer, a Pinkie Pie Mermaid and a Pokemon card deck,” Scarlett rattled off in quick succession.
Mrs. Claus also had her fair share of children visit with her in the museum. Played by Babs Stefano, a member of the museum’s board of trustees, Mrs. Claus handed out small toys and gave the kids a hug.
The Holiday Festival served as a showcase for the library, the museum and other facilities housed inside the Ocean City Community Center at 17th Street and Simpson Avenue. As part of the festivities, trolleys took passengers from the community center to the newly opened Ocean City Life-Saving Museum at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue.
With many visitors in town for the holidays, the Christmas season represents a busy time for the museum and library.
“The whole month of December is kind of a crescendo leading up to First Night,” Jeffrey McGranahan, the museum’s executive director, said of Ocean City’s New Year’s Eve celebration.
To capitalize on the holiday crowds, the museum is opening a new exhibit that will feature local artwork inspired by the legendary 1901 Sindia shipwreck in Ocean City’s waters. Some of the artwork will be up for sale. The exhibit is scheduled to open 7 p.m. Friday.
McGranahan explained that the holiday season traditionally provides a boost in revenue generated by sales at the museum’s gift shop and special exhibits.
In December 2016, the museum reaped about $3,000 in gift sales, more than one-third of its $8,000 in total revenue for the entire year, he said.
Mrs. Claus’ Market, the museum’s sale of vintage Christmas collectibles, will be open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hopefully, Mrs. Claus – and Santa, of course – can stay around a little bit longer in Ocean City before heading back to the North Pole.