Santa sightings

There's still a chance to see St. Nick before Christmas

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Miranda Francis, four months, and Angeline Francis, 3, both of Parkersburg, find out if they have been naughty or nice Friday at the Grand Central Mall.

He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake …

It’s a good bet that all the children in Oak Grove will be awake this Sunday afternoon. Santa Claus is coming to the township.

“The Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department will start Sunday at 1 p.m., with sirens sounding and lights flashing on the fire truck,” said Muskingum Township trustee Ken Schilling. “It will cover every street in Oak Grove.”

And on board the firetruck, of course, will be Santa Claus, helping the firefighters toss candy to children and accepting letters from them. It’s a tradition that goes back a number of years.

“The fire department does this every year and takes a lot of pride in doing it,” Schilling said. “It shows the kids that the firefighters are there to support them. It’s a great project.”

The tour is expected to take about four hours, he said. The unincorporated area is on the west bank of the Muskingum River and includes more than a dozen residential streets along with township roads and a section of County Road 4.

“There are many miles of roads and many houses to cover,” he said. “Our goal is not to miss any houses. People just have to listen for the sirens and watch for the flashing lights.”

Schilling also asks parents to keep their children well back from the roadway, 20 feet or so, as the fire engine goes by.

Just as Christmas events seem to be getting pushed back earlier into the calendar, so it is with opportunities to visit Santa Claus. Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce events coordinator Kelsey Vincent said most of the area businesses that planned an appearance with St. Nick have already done so, although Christmas is still 10 days away.

One exception is the Lafayette Hotel, which is holding its annual Breakfast with Santa Sunday morning, a few hours before he heads off for Oak Grove.

“We try not to have it too early in the month, but also not too late so people can spend time together before Christmas,” said Christina Thrasher, director of sales for the hotel. “The Gun Room (hotel restaurant) does this every year. There will be a build-your-own-pancake bar for the kids and some hands-on things. Santa will be up on the stage, with Christmas trees and decorations, and Mrs. Claus will be there, too.”

The restaurant is offering a breakfast buffet with traditional fare such as sausages, eggs, bacon and pancakes, she said, but children can come to visit Santa even if they and their families don’t purchase the breakfast.

“There’s no charge just to come in and see Santa,” Thrasher said. “Bring your cameras, your Christmas lists. It’s a chance to spend that special one-on-one time with Santa.”

The buffet is free for children 4 and younger, $5.99 for those 5 to 11 and $8.99 for those 12 and older, she said.

Elsewhere, Santa will make an appearance at the annual Lower Salem village Christmas party on Saturday. Food will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m., and Santa will arrive at about 5:30 p.m., the village treasurer Janet Kidd said. Refreshments will include soups and sandwiches, and the event is free.

Earlier Saturday, the Belpre Heights United Methodist Church at 720 Clement Ave. is inviting everyone to its version of breakfast with Santa. The event is being held from 9 to 11 a.m.

Across the river, the Grand Central Mall in Vienna has Santa booked pretty solidly for the coming week. The mall website shows Santa available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Santa Claus appearances

•Saturday, 9 to 11 a.m., breakfast with Santa, Belpre Heights United Methodist Church, 720 Clement Ave.

•Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Lower Salem annual village Christmas Party.

•Sunday, 8 to 11 a.m., breakfast with Santa, Gun Room restaurant, Lafayette Hotel.

•Sunday 1 to 5 p.m., the streets of Oak Grove, annual volunteer fire department Santa tour.

•Daily through Dec. 20, Grand Central Mall, Vienna, W.Va.:

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Monday through Thursday.

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Note: Santa takes occasional breaks during the day.