When Aaron Valance was a little boy in Thousand Oaks, seeing Santa Claus on local cable television was more exciting than seeing him at the mall. Watching Santa sitting cozily next to a fire on his television set, Valance could imagine that Santa was really at the North Pole.
Now that Valance is a 20-year-old film student at Moorpark College, he decided he wanted to do the same for area kids.
With a $700 grant from the city's public access cable commission, Valance is bringing back the "Santa Live" program he remembers from his childhood. The 90-minute program runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. today on cable Channel 8. It can be viewed in Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Moorpark, Westlake Village, Fillmore and parts of Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Camarillo.
Kids who call into the program can talk directly to "Santa" and tell him what they want for Christmas.
"They think they are really calling to the North Pole," Valance said. "Kids are so used to television now, it is very natural for them to be doing this."
A new community service group, the Conejo Jaycees, heard about Valance's plans and agreed to help paint and decorate the North Pole set.
Member Pamela Spencer said the Jaycees are holding a corresponding toy drive to benefit Interface, a child-abuse prevention program, and the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Thousand Oaks. Information on how to donate toys will be broadcast throughout "Santa Live."