Santa stars at La Cañada's Festival in Lights

Santa Claus was booked solid Friday night as about 100 children waited in line to wish for video game systems, dolls and candy during La Cañada Flintridge’s 18th annual Festival in Lights at Memorial Park.

Snow, reindeer, caroling and the ceremonial lighting of the holiday display were among the highlights, as was the naming of the finalists for Miss La Cañada Flintridge 2013.

Stephanie Beck, Chelsea Johnson, Maddie Johnson, Courtney Perry and Nora Sagal are in the running, with the winner to be announced Jan. 17.

But the line that wrapped around Santa’s post and stretched out halfway through the park made it obvious that Santa was the festival favorite.

Zack Peterson, 8, was first in line, saying that in previous years he had been forced to wait too long to talk to Santa. This year Zack asked Santa for a Nintendo 3DS and nothing else, because “they’re cool and I can play with my friends,” he said.

Emily Klapmust, 9, said she planned to ask Santa for “a lot of stuff,” but she was also excited to carol with her friend Catherine Layton, 10, and other elementary school students. They have practiced every Thursday since September, Emily said.

“I like how we got to sing in front of people,” she said. “I like singing and dancing.”

Chamber President Pat Anderson said attendance at the festival has increased as families make it part of their holiday tradition.

“We have snow and live reindeer and it’s free,” she said. “It gives you that small-town America feeling. I think that’s what people appreciate.”

While Santa was the leading dignitary at the event, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) also came by.

“It is just a treat to see so many people having fun and throwing snowballs, which you don’t get to see in La Cañada every day,” he said.

One result of the legislative redistricting completed in 2011 means that Schiff will once again represent La Cañada when the 113th Congress convenes next year.

“It’s wonderful to come back and see how vibrant the community is and how many fun activities are going on,” he said.

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