Hundreds of people bundled up against the cold and headed to Corbin Park on Sunday for wagon rides, hot chocolate and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The “Sleigh Bells in Corbin Park” event was a fundraiser for the new Mounted Patrol run by the Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services program. The patrol sends teams of volunteers on horseback to Spokane parks during the warm weather months.
The teams of draft horses pulling the wagon were provided by Triple C Shires, said Mounted Patrol volunteer and Spokane police officer Traci Ponto. Ponto is one of two commissioned police officers who ride with the patrol as volunteers on their days off.
The owners of Triple C Shires are new volunteers with the patrol and have wanted to participate in an event like this, Ponto said. She took their idea and ran with it, creating what is hoped to be an annual event. “It’s a fundraiser but really it’s a community event,” she said.
Ponto said it seemed fitting to hold the event in historic Corbin Park, which was the site of the first county fairgrounds and a race track.
Roberta Chandler got to the park early with her extended family and was one of the first to get a wagon ride. “I think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “The kids enjoyed it.”
She also visited with Santa, had some hot chocolate and played in the park with her grandchildren. “We did it all,” she said.
Chandler said she might have ridden in a horse drawn wagon once as a child and said she enjoyed the experience at Corbin Park. “It think it’s a neat, neat thing,” she said. “It puts a lot of smiles on a lot of kids faces.”
The wagon rides seemed to be a big hit, with lines stretching through the park. The event was scheduled to run from noon to 2 p.m., but there were still dozens of people in line at the scheduled end time. Organizers put in a fresh team of horses and kept the wagon running until everyone could take a ride around the park.
Tanya Sisto was at the park with her family so her son, 14-month-old Gavin, could have his first visit with Santa. Young Gavin, however, wasn’t on board with the plan. Whenever someone tried to put him into Santa’s lap he would burst into tears.
Gavin was soon safely back in his mothers arms as she sipped her hot chocolate and considered whether they wanted to brave the cold long enough to wait in line for a wagon ride. Despite the screaming, the day went down as a success.
“It’s his first time with Santa,” Sisto said. “The picture turned out pretty cute, though. I don’t mind the screaming kid face. It’s the memories that count.”
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