Dec. 4—Children and families gathered around for Christmas festivities on Friday at the Yuba One Stop Parking Lot to visit the fantasy land of Who-ville and the Grinch while also obtaining information about local organizations in the Yuba-Sutter area.
The Winter Wonderland event held by the Yuba County Office of Education (YCOE) provided Christmas activities, toys and a platform for families to know about local resources in the area. While children ran from booth to booth, parents were able to get information from organizations such as the Yuba County Library, Peach Tree Health, Yuba One Stop, Victor Community Support Services and Ampla Health and its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
"Over the last year with the pandemic a lot of families weren't able to get the holiday experience, celebrations or the activities that they normally would get this time of the year so we provided an event that was completely free, no cost to families for them to participate and also be connected to resources and community services," said Brendon Messina, youth advocate coordinator at YCOE.
The event featured activities for families such as a cakewalk, ring toss, an ice fishing booth, a reindeer food activity, a booth in which kids knocked down a snowman, a Who-ville themed fantasyland activity and also provided children an opportunity to interact with characters like the Grinch, Santa Claus and a Who-ville resident.
Leah Madsen, senior library technician at the Yuba County Library, was among the people running a booth and said that all employees at the library enjoy the Christmas holiday and are excited to decorate the Christmas tree at the library this year.
"So we were really excited to be a part of this event," said Madsen. "It has been so much fun just talking to everybody. We're doing a ring toss, reindeer wrangler activity and it's been a lot of fun encouraging kids as they throw the ring toss. Everybody gets a prize, of course and then we're giving away information about what we're doing at the library."
Madsen said children are encouraged to drop off a letter to Santa at the special Santa's Mailbox at the Yuba County Library. As long as the letter includes a return address, Santa will be able to send a letter back when he visits the library on Dec. 18 for the Holiday Walk Through at the Yuba County Library located at 303 Second St. in Marysville.
Kari Hauser, a parent, brought her two children to the Winter Wonderland event and described how they were having so much fun that her kids were rushing through the activities.
"It's amazing to be able to come out to an event like this after a whole year. It's very exciting to be able to do normal things again and mingle with the public and get everything back to somewhat normal," said Hauser.
The Youth Advocacy Department, a program within YCOE, put together the Winter Wonderland event and expected around 150-500 families to attend. The YCOE Youth Advocacy Department provides support and services to youth in the county. The programs within the department range from youth employment and family support programs to juvenile employment training programs. Among other duties, the Youth Advocacy Department also provides college and career readiness programs and supports Yuba County youth through various programs.
"So we have a program called the Jet Program, the Juvenile Employment Training. Kids from court and community schools that attend the program, if they're juniors or seniors and they show a certain amount of engagement and they apply to our program, then we we hire them as interns with our partners through Yuba One Stop," said Messina. "It's a paid internship, and after the program is over, we retain them as YCOE employees and we make sure they have the qualifications and get them ready to come work with us and give back to the community."
Maurice Sumpter, once a participant of the Jet Program and now a clerk for YCOE, was helping run one of the Christmas booths at the event. Sumpter said he was an intern with YCOE for four months before he was offered a position as a clerk.
"I'm doing the stocking stuffers," said Sumpter. "I'm making sure all the kids get gifts for the holiday joy. COVID brought a lot of community joy down last year but this year with events like these, the holiday joy has arisen again and it's nice to see the kids smile and have a good time."