Santa Claus paid a visit to the La Cañada High School cafeteria Saturday morning and made a lot of children very happy.
For the past few years Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services have used the high school cafeteria as a central meeting place for children in foster care, the families that take of them and prospective adoption parents from Los Angeles County.
“We had 55 children RSVP for the party,” said Jeri Miles, Hathaway spokeswoman.
DJ Glenn Mehterian of Parties in Motion kept the party going as the children danced around and played limbo. Tables were set up for arts and crafts projects and Pillow Pals allowed children to choose their favorite handmade pillow cases.
Many times the children are in situation where they need comforting, Miles said.
“The pillows allow them so security.”
In addition to games and crafts, the families were served lunch by the La Cañada High School Culinary Arts class.
Members Hasmik and Leo Avedian, Paola Sagastome, Nicole Morrison and Joe Siepler all from the high school and Mikata McIntire from Pasadena City College served the families breakfast of eggs, bacon and pastries. In the kitchen Paul Marchetti, Stephanie Farag, Evan Zarate, James Nam, Lacie Green and Jinan Harb prepared more food.
The Culinary Arts class has been very busy this year, catering several affairs locally like this one and an upcoming band banquet to a choir banquet at the College of the Canyons.
“We made 1,500 pastries yesterday for the College of the Canyons,” said Karen Stattler, culinary teacher at the school.
Stattler has five classes with over 180 students in her Culinary Arts program. The students do all the cooking and serve the food. The students work hard but have fun joking with each other and Stattler.
“I think that is the slowest we ever drove over here,” said Sagastome as Stattler drove her golf cart from the event to the kitchen.
“That's because we are almost done serving,” Stattler said, unruffled by the teasing.
The pace can be hectic between preparation and serving but with events like that of Saturday the hard work and hurried pressure was well worth it, Stattler said and her students agreed.
“It's fun,” said Hasmik. “The families are having a good time.”
The food and games were popular but the main event of the morning was a visit from Santa Claus. As D.J. Mehterian announced that Santa was in the building, all the children jumped up ready to greet him.
The toys and Santa were courtesy of “Days of Our Life” soap opera.
“Every year our show donates toys at Christmas to these children,” said Stephen Nichols, aka Santa.
Nichols, a director and actor, portrays Steve “Patch” Johnson on “Days of Our Life.”
“He knew about the party and I asked him if he would help us out and he agreed immediately,” said Andrea Sica.
“I am speechless,” Nichols said as child after child came up to give him a hug. “This is a great way for me to participate, in some small way, in their Christmas.”
Nichols added that members of his show's cast and crew adopt one or more of the children and purchase gifts for them. He said that it was great to follow through with the process and meet the kids they helped. The twinkle of Santa's eyes sparkled even brighter as some young children cried as they attempted to figure out who this big guy in the red suit was while others came back over and over again to get a hug.
He opened his arms to yet another child as she ran to him.
“This is great,” he said followed by a “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
The Culinary Arts program is available for catering any event. For information contact La Cañada High School at (818) 952-4200 ask for Karen Stattler or Youth Employment Services. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.