By Maddy Vitale
Sisters Madison and Morgan Spizarny, of Mullica Hill, were so eager to see Santa Claus at the Music Pier in Ocean City on Saturday, they arrived an hour early.
“They wanted to be first in line,” said their grandmother Michelle Potts, also of Mullica Hill, who has a vacation home in Ocean City.
“We take them to see Santa every year,” said their grandfather Mike Potts.
Madison, 7, and Morgan, 2, got the coveted spots at the head of a line that wrapped from the Music Pier all the way down the Boardwalk. Hundreds of other children anxious to see Santa joined them.
Madison and Morgan even dressed in holiday pajamas for the occasion.
“I want a sleeping mask,” said Madison while she held her doll and giggled.
She also wanted a glittery doll called an L.O.L. doll.
Morgan only seemed to want one thing: “Mickey Mouse,” she said as she ran around her sister, laughed and showed off a pink squishy toy, before her grandfather scooped her up.
The doting grandparents said they watch their granddaughters on some weekends and throughout the holidays. They spend as much time as possible in Ocean City. In addition to photos with Santa, the girls had a packed schedule of Christmas events this weekend.
“We are having breakfast with Santa tomorrow,” Madison said of an Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce event at different restaurants leading up to Christmas.
Santa wore his trademark snow-white beard, bushy white eyebrows, wire-rimmed glasses and red and white velvet suit and cap. Santa was played by JT Williams, an Ocean City resident who has entertained the community in the role for the last 17 years.
When he appeared and walked over to the Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeboat, Madison shouted, “Santa!”
The sisters smiled when it was time to take a seat in the lifeboat with Santa. There were a few whispers in Santa’s ear and then they were off with their grandparents.
Linwood siblings Stevie Blair-Hermes, 6, and his sister, Madilyn, 8, couldn’t wait to tell Santa want they wanted. But Stevie wasn’t so quick to divulge what was on his wish list for Santa. Finally, after a couple of minutes, he said he wanted action figures.
Madilyn knew right away what she wanted and wasn’t shy about telling people. “I want Barbie clothes,” she said beaming.
Children asked for Legos, electronics, video games, books and all sorts of toys. But some of them also asked for Santa to bring good will. One little girl asked that Santa send her some blankets that she could give to the homeless. A little boy told Santa he wished for his baby cousin to have a good life. He also said he wants a remote control car.
While the line was long and people had to wait their turn to get in the lifeboat with “Jolly Old Saint Nick,” families chatted, laughed and even made friends.
Sue and Mike McElwee, of Churchville, Pa., brought their four children to see Santa. Their youngest child, Harlow, stood on a skateboard waiting to visit with Santa, while her big brothers anxiously awaited the visit.
“They love it,” Sue McElwee said.
The family, who has a vacation home in Ocean City, came with skateboards, and it was pretty clear what would be on the wish lists of the three boys.
“We are heading to the skate park next,” Sue McElwee said with a laugh.
Mike and Stacie Gellar have organized the event for the last 10 years.
Stacie Gellar gave children candy canes and signed them in, while Mike Gellar took their photos with Santa.
It is an event that always draws a huge crowd of children and their families, but it is very weather-dependent, the Gellars said. And although the forecast called for precipitation Saturday, except for a few clouds, Santa kept the rain from coming.