A holiday welcome

Santa Claus soared over hundreds of people watching the mayor’s tree lighting in front of City Hall at the annual Burbank Holiday Parade, while chants for him penetrated the air.

But he didn’t do it with his trusty reindeer. Santa circled the crowd in a helicopter.

The event and subsequent parade down San Fernando Boulevard kicked off downtown Burbank’s 12 Days of Holiday Cheer, which is usually in the first 12 days of December.

After Santa and Mrs. Claus waved to the crowd, they were whisked away to the AMC Theatre walkway where Santa heard the whispered wishes of children.

Isabella Augustine, 5, already told Santa what she wants for Christmas at the Americana at Brand.

“I’m going to ask him for a plasma TV,” Isabella said on her way to see Santa up close for a second time. “And I want a screen that’s really, really big.”

After the tree-lighting celebration, Christmas events will spring up all over Burbank. The YMCA will have a Reindeer Run from 8 to 10 a.m. Friday on San Fernando Boulevard, with Santa as the official race starter. Then he will be available for photos every day at the Burbank Town Center until Dec. 24.

Eight-year-old Julianne Zayas stood patiently in line to see Santa, munching on a candy cane.

Julianne’s mother, Janae Zayas, heard about the event through her daughter’s school.

“It wasn’t like this when we used to live in San Pedro,” Zayas said.

They have lived in Burbank since September.

“It felt like he was real,” Julianne said of Santa’s entrance. “I do believe in him, kind of. But I caught my mom red-handed.”

Five years ago, Julianne said, she caught her mom doing Santa’s work.

“I came out for a glass of milk and I saw her putting gifts under the tree,” Julianne said. Even though her faith is faltering, she still wants to sit on Santa’s lap.

“He’s a good spirit,” Julianne said. “He’s just special.”

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