Nearly 400 Children Attend "Race to the Holidays" Christmas Party at Sonoma Raceway

          SONOMA, Calif. (Dec. 13, 2014) - More than 400 people enjoyed a day of holiday cheer at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday at the 10th annual "Race to the Holidays" Children's Christmas Party.

          The raceway hosted more than 400 Sonoma Valley children and their families at the event, which featured caroling, refreshments, a car display, balloon animals and a visit from Santa Claus.

          The event, which has drawn more than 2,200 children since its inception in 2005, culminated with Santa Claus presenting each child with a bag full of toys. Children ranged in age from newborn to 12-years-old.

          "I was really excited to come today. I really wanted a Transformer and I got a Transformer. It was awesome" said six-year-old Oliver Toral from Sonoma.                    

            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 the gifts. All of the children left the raceway with new toys and wide smiles. Following the toy distribution, everyone was treated to a free lunch at the Raceway Café.

            "This event provides another sense of safety for the children," said Tess Woodbury, staff member at WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center in Sonoma. "It's hard to imagine what these kids are going through, and receiving these gifts provides them with another reason to be happy and enjoy the holidays."

            All children who attended the party were pre-registered through six Sonoma Valley youth groups, including: Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley; Friends in Sonoma Helping;  La Luz Center; Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance; and the WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center.

            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: Agua Caliente Fire Department, American Red Cross, AAA Sonoma, California Highway Patrol, Dick Sharke, Dr. Bob Nadjibi D.D.S., Dr. Martin Steigner. D.D.S., Dr. Raymond Ramos D.D.S., Dr. Kristin Devincenzi D.D.S., Dr. Julie Forstadt D.D.S., Exchange Bank, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Joe Ravina, Save Mart/Lucky Supermarkets, Schell-Vista Fire Department, Sonoma City Hall, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Fire Department, United Site Services and verihealth, inc.