By Maddy Vitale
Kellen Strohl, 4, of Lancaster, Pa. carefully chose what he wanted for brunch at the Sea Isle City VFW Post 1963 Brunch with Santa Sunday.
He plopped a hot dog on a bun on the paper plate and had a generous helping of bacon. He knew what he wanted wasn’t the most popular brunch served up of scrambled eggs and waffles, but he made up his mind.
The brunch, sponsored by the post in cooperation with Sea Isle City Recreation, included a visit from Santa and toy giveaway.
Just as Kellen was sure what he wanted to eat, he was just as certain about what he wanted to ask Santa to place under the tree Christmas day.
“PAW Patrol Mighty Pups,” he said assured, and began to nibble on his hot dog.
Kellen and his parents Nicole and Brian Strohl, who have a vacation home in Sea Isle, sat and enjoyed their food while awaiting Santa’s arrival.
“This is our first time coming to the brunch,” Brian Strohl said. “We wanted to try it. It’s great. Sea Isle is such a nice community.”
About 80 people – parents and their children – packed into VFW to enjoy a breakfast. Children waited their turn to tell Santa what they wished for, and each of them received a wrapped gift.
About a week before the event VFW members receive information from the city about the children registered and go shopping.
Some of the children had their faces painted.
Lucas Cummins, from Feasterville Pa., whose grandparents are from Sea Isle, decided to have his face painted as the “Grinch.”
He laughed when asked why he chose the “Grinch.”
When it came to what he wanted for Christmas he spoke up. “I want an electric scooter,” he said with a giggle.
A few minutes later and out came a few, “Ho Ho Hos.”
The room erupted in cheers for Santa Claus who took a seat in front of a table stacked with gifts and called the children up.
Parents, grandparents and guardians clicked cellphone pictures of the children.
Within minutes of a child receiving a toy, it appeared gift wrapping was on the floor, or handed to a parent.
Chloe Cramer, 6, of Wildwood Crest, beamed as she opened her gift.
“I love it. I wanted a doll,” she said.
Then she turned the box around to show off her new doll.
In about an hour, children and their families left, many smiling children toted their early Christmas presents.
Sea Isle Public Information Officer Katherine Custer credited the event’s success to the hard work of the VFW members and volunteers
“The brunch is always so well attended. We have a wonderful VFW and VFW Auxiliary,” Custer said. “They do an amazing job serving the community of all ages.”
VFW Auxiliary member Diane McCool said this year, more than others in the years before, the Santa brunch was very organized.
“This year we have a lot of help,” McCool said. “People volunteered their time. Chick (Haines) does a wonderful job. The men of the VFW do all the shopping for the brunch. We feed the parents and the kids. No one leaves hungry.”