The young and young-at-heart came to Perris for the chance to meet Santa, take a photo, disclose their holiday wish list and enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by loved ones and friends.
The annual “Breakfast with Santa” drew a full house to the Bob Glass Gymnasium where lines of Yuletide merrymakers waited to disclose their wish lists for Old St. Nick.
Perris Mayor Michael Vargas led the contingent of other elected officials attending the breakfast, which marks the last of three signature events held by the City of Perris to welcome in the holidays. Both other celebrations—the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade—also drew large and enthusiastic crowds.
“It’s all about community engagement,” said Vargas, who brought his wife, Julie, children and six grandchildren to meet Santa. “It’s all about the kids.”
Vargas said Breakfast with Santa and other Perris events draw visitors from surrounding communities, raising the City’s profile.
“It’s great to know we attract people from outside our community,” he said. “We’ve established this tradition and people enjoy it. It’s got to continue. Perris is known for it.”
Asked what his grandkids want from Santa, Vargas replied “tablets and technology.”
Mayor Pro-Tem David Starr Rabb described Breakfast with Santa as “always a great event and something I always look forward to.”
“It’s great seeing all the families come out and enjoy a Merry Christmas,” he said. “There are lots of people here.”
City Councilwoman Tonya Burke attended with her daughter, Jaylyn, a member of the City’s Youth Advisory Committee who helped serve breakfast.
Committed to this season
Burke said the City takes pride in hosting events like Breakfast with Santa.
“There really aren’t too many places people can go to experience an event like this,” she said. “We are committed to this season. The holidays are supposed to be festive, no matter what your personal situation is. But for some people, it’s a season to withdraw. So we want to reach out to people and let them know that they have their biological family and you have your City family.”
City Councilman Malcolm Corona brought his wife, Mila, son, Malcolm, 2, and his in-laws—Evelyn and Miguel Jimenez—who are visiting from Venezuela. Little Malcolm is receiving a basketball court set for Christmas.
“The holiday season is a great time to celebrate all the great things in our City and all the accomplishments in our City,” Corona said. “This is a great event! The food is great, Santa does a great job, it’s a nice family event, our staff does a great job and everybody has a great time.”
City Councilwoman Rita Rogers attended with grandson, Jordan, 6. He wants Transformers, a dog and a turtle.
“The Perris City Council is very family-oriented,” Rogers said. “Breakfast with Santa is a wonderful time for families to attend. Christmas is a time for Jesus and a time for little children to have their wishes come true.”
City Clerk Nancy Salazar attended with her husband, Cesar, and daughter, Khloe, 7. The youngster wants “clothes and Shopkins,” small collectable toys. Dad wants a “big-block engine” for his truck.
“This is such an awesome thing for our City to do,” Salazar said. “Perris is always ready to go above and beyond!”
Family traditions, first timers
Allison Grayson and her family have attended Breakfast with Santa for a decade. Her kids—Ella Kay, 12, Riley, 14, and Wyatt, 16—have grown up spending part of the holiday season in Perris.
“This is the best Santa ever!” Grayson said. “He’s real. He makes the teen-agers smile and giggle. Every year it gets better—the organization, the decorations, the fun!”
Ella Kay Grayson wishes for gymnastics equipment. Riley wants a set of drums while big brother Wyatt hopes to receive an electric guitar. Mom loves the quality family time in Perris.
“It’s the start of the Christmas season,” Allison Grayson said. “Breakfast with Santa makes it official.”
The Jacquez family—mom and dad Ana and Adrian and children Adriana, 11, Adrian, 9, and Andres, 6, attended the 2017 version of Breakfast with Santa for the first time. They liked what they saw.
“The City of Perris is paradise,” Ana Jacquez said. “The City is well-knitted with the community. It’s a down- to-Earth kind of place. This breakfast is great—the atmosphere, the decorations, outstanding. The people working here look like they genuinely want to be here.”
The family’s Christmas wishes include Nintendo Switches and virtual-reality glasses.
Another first-timer, Adam McCray, attended with daughter, Peyton, 3. She’s hoping for Elsa dolls from the Disney movie “Frozen.” Dad just liked to see the smile on Peyton’s face as she took in Breakfast with Santa.
“Breakfast with Santa is an awesome idea,” he said. “I think it’s really cool the City of Perris is doing it.”