Liberty Jolly smiles as she tells Santa Claus her list of gifts she wants.
With bows in her hair and wearing a pretty dress, 5-year-old Sophie Braun slides red-and-white beads on a red pipe cleaner to make a candy cane.
The youngster from Botkins concentrates on her craft as she waits for her chance to visit Santa Claus, who visited the Wapakoneta branch of the Auglaize County Public District Library on Monday.
“I want an American Doll and a Barbie,” Sophie says, peering through her glasses. “I want Carolyn, she’s the American Doll, and I want Barbie and Pop Star.”
Her younger sister, Stella, 3, sat across from her at the craft table.
Admiring her sister’s choices, Stella, rattled off her Christmas wish list, which mirrored her sister’s.
“I want an American Doll and Barbie and Pop Star silly,” Stella said.
The two girls made the trip with their aunt and cousins as the girls’ parents, Stacy and Sam Braun, stayed home with their 1-year-old brother. The Brauns also watched their 1-year-old niece for Sybil Koenig, of Botkins, who also brought her two young sons to meet Santa. Santa made his appearance courtesy of the KAPOW Club.
Corey Koenig, 5, interrupted his candy cane-ornament making to figure out his Christmas list for Santa.
“I will take a big tractor,” the son of Sybil and Derek Koenig said. “I really like farming.”
He said his father does not farm, but he sells tractors and farm equipment so that is why he likes tractors.
His younger brother, Quinn, focused on home entertainment.
“I want a TV upstairs for my bedroom,” the 3-year-old said.
Agriculture also appealed to 4-year-old Joshua Copeland, who first whispered his list to his mother, Katie, who brought him to meet Santa and to have his photograph with Kris Kringle taken by Brad Avery of Avery Aperature. Avery donated his services.
“I want bulls and cows and yaks and girl cows,” Joshua said. “I want a truck with a hook and a wagon ... and little pieces of hay for them to eat.”
The son of Katie and Josh Copeland said his favorite part of Christmas is opening the presents under the Christmas tree.
Wapakoneta Elementary School student Lastat Shreves, 8, would like to have Santa give him an Xbox and a model train for Christmas. He said he was excited about Christmas coming, but it takes too long for the holiday to finally get here.
“My favorite part of Christmas is opening the presents and playing with the toys,” Lastat said.
Members of the library staff including Youth Services Coordinator Karie Maurer-Enning helped organize the event. Maurer-Enning started the evening with reading the story “The Elf on the Shelf.”
“I thought the event went well, it was a great night,” Maurer-Enning said. “We had a wonderful turnout and the kids were glad to see Santa — so that is a successful night.
“It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of families here tonight and that is what we were hoping for — to give families a chance to enjoy the evening,” she said.
An official count had 123 people attending the event. Maurer-Enning said she recognized a lot of her regular storytime children attending the event as well as a lot of newcomers.
“We obviously encourage reading so we love to have them here,” Maurer-Enning said. “We try to integrate reading into all of our programs, to encourage kids to come to our storytimes and to participate in our other reading events.”
At the conclusion of reading her story, Maurer-Enning challenged the young readers to find the Elf on the Shelf in the library. He also made an appearance along with Santa Monday night, but he was hiding in a palm tree.
“From Dec. 1 through Dec. 22, the Elf on the Shelf will be hiding throughout the library to encourage readers to explore the library because they will have to look everywhere for him,” Maurer-Enning said. “This is a way for the children to further explore the library and have fun.”
The Christmas checklists did not end with the children, some adults had wishes they wanted granted.
“I just want a chance to see my family and hopefully they are all well and good,” Wapakoneta Middle School Principal and KAPOW member Wes Newland said.
He and his wife, Alice, have a son, Keith, who now lives in Columbus, and a daughter, Michelle, who now lives in Cincinnati.
Youth Services Assistant Coordinator Cheryl Bailey expressed a similar wish.
“I want peace and happiness and a chance to enjoy the holiday with my family,” Bailey said.
Before Santa flew out of sight on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, he praised all the kids from 1 to 92.
“This was a really nice event,” Santa said. “The kids all have a lot of energy, I like to see that before the holidays.
“I can tell they are all good boys and girls regardless of their age,” the jolly old elf said. “If they continue to be good, they all should have a merry Christmas.”