More than 300 Sonoma Valley children enjoyed a festive day under sunny skies at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday at the 14th 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 a race-car display, balloon animals, face painting and a visit from Santa Claus, who arrived via Schell-Vista Fire Protection District fire truck.

The event, which has drawn more than 3,300 children since its inception in 2005, culminated with Santa Claus presenting each child with a full bag of toys and a stuffed animal, as well as a toiletry kit courtesy of Verizon. Children ranged in age from newborn to 13 years old.

"This event is so helpful, particularly for mom and dad, who are such hard working people," said Laurel Mohring, mentor center facilitator at the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance. "It's something they can look forward to doing as a family, and it's magical for the kids."

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.

"I brought my daughter when she was little and now she's in high school, so I brought my two younger sons, and they had so much fun," said Edith from Sonoma. "They were excited to see Santa and are already busy playing with the toys."

"It was awesome," added her son, Aydan.

All children were pre-registered through six Sonoma Valley youth groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, El Verano Family Resource Center, Friends in Sonoma Helping (F.I.S.H.), La Luz, Stand By Me Mentoring and the Sonoma Valley Teen Parent Program.

The raceway received a generous outpouring of support from the community as more than 1,200 toys were donated for the party. Supporters of this year's event included: Dick Sharke, Exchange Bank, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Levy Restaurants, Patterson Dental, Pat Milligan, The Save Mart Companies, Schell-Vista Fire Protection District, Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority, Verizon and Viansa Sonoma. SCC, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway, has distributed more than $6.4 million to Sonoma County youth organizations since 2001.