More than 300 Children Attend "Race to the Holidays" Christmas Party
More than 300 Sonoma Valley children enjoyed a day of holiday cheer at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday at the 12th annual "Race to the Holidays" Children's Christmas Party.
The raceway teamed up with the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children's Charities (SCC) to host the children and their families at the event, which featured caroling, refreshments, a car display, balloon animals and a visit from Santa Claus, who arrived via a Schell-Vista Fire Department fire truck.
The event, which has drawn more than 2,700 children since its inception in 2005, culminated with Santa Claus presenting each child with a bag of toys, as well as a toiletry kit courtesy of Verizon. Children ranged in age from newborn to 12-years-old.
"We love all the presents from Santa, but my favorite is this cheetah toy," said six-year-old Aniya, who attended the party with her twin sister, Aiyana, and four siblings. "Santa also gave me a Hello Kitty pillow, which I really wanted."
Upon hearing the children caroling his favorite tune, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Santa greeted the children on his way into the event hall before handing out gifts. The children left the raceway with new toys and wide smiles after a complimentary lunch at the Raceway Café.
"It is so nice that you give presents to the kids," said Gloria from Sonoma, who attended the party with her husband and three kids. "For my seven year old, for him to see Santa is everything, and for my three year old and one year old, the toys are probably their favorite."
All children were pre-registered through six Sonoma Valley youth groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, El Verano Elementary School, Friends in Sonoma Helping (F.I.S.H.), La Luz, Stand By Me Mentoring and the Sonoma Valley Teen Parent Program.
SCC, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway, has distributed more than $5.5 million to Sonoma County youth organizations since 2001.
The raceway received a generous outpouring of support from the community as more than 1,500 toys were donated for the party. Supporters of this year's event included: Exchange Bank, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Levy Restaurants, McDowell Drug Task Force, Patterson Dental, Save Mart/Lucky Supermarkets, Schell-Vista Fire Department, Sonoma Stompers, Sonoma Valley Fire Department, Synergy Dental Group, United Site Services, verihealth, inc. and Verizon.