By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
The couple and their 5-year-old son, Evan, who fancied himself a cookie entrepreneur, set up the party at the township administration building, complete with snacks, decorations, elves workshop craft tables, and a special station to make “Magic Reindeer Food” along with Santa himself, who arrived courtesy of the fire department.
They initially planned to foot the bill themselves, grateful to be in a position to do so. “We have it pretty good. We’re lucky, and I know there’s some folks in our community who might be having a harder time of it, and we wanted to make sure the kids could come see Santa and do some crafts and get a couple gifts,” said Randy, who works for UPS. His wife works for Huntingdon Bank.
“I used to bring gifts for the police to donate to children. Last year I gave them to someone at church and we got to talking, and we thought ‘why not do something for the kids?’ and we talked to the trustees and the police and it came together.”
They received from several local businesses donations of food and toys that helped the Viconovic’s with their plans. “We really appreciated that, but hey, if we had to do it ourselves, well then we would. But this is great,” Randy said.
Evan, who declared himself “the boss” behind the cookie counter, was trying to promote the donated Christmas goodies. “They’re four dollars each,” he said of the free cookies, “but it looks like I’m going to just have to give them away because nobody paid me,” he said.
“Evan, they’re free to everyone,” his Dad told him. “And that’s what we wanted. People to come up here free of charge and see Santa, because we know not everyone is able to take their kids to the mall to see Santa,” he added. “And a lot can’t afford the pictures, so we’re taking the pictures and giving them to them,” he said.
Plans are already under way for next year’s celebration, and hopes are that it can be a daylong event, which will include a food giveaway and a tree lighting ceremony on the township’s historic green.
Melissa said she sees the celebration as a way to give back to her community. “It’s open to anyone, although today it was mostly kids 10 and under.”
“Next year I’d like to add some caroling too,” she said. Most of the small gift items, like coloring books, were donated by local businesses. “The businesses in this community are amazing when it comes to things like this.”
About 25 children came to the party between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Trustees Gary Lees and Dion Magestro were there to lend a hand as well.
“This is kind of a different slant than the usual tree lighting on the green. But the green is torn up right now with the work we’re doing down there. Next year we’re going to incorporate that part into this. I’m going to ask property owners around the square to decorate, and we’ll have the food giveaway and do the lighting and have Santa,” Lees said.
Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa volunteered his time to be Santa.
“It’s great. I always wanted this job,” he said.