Upper Arlington children hoping to meet Santa Claus and take part in other annual holiday festivities next month can register now for the annual Christmas in the Park.
For more than 20 years, the Upper Arlington Civic Association has celebrated the prelude to Christmas and brought Santa Claus to the community as part of its Christmas in the Park.
This year's event is slated for Dec. 2-5 at Thompson Park.
Registration for Christmas at the Park opened Nov. 5, and UACA officials last week encouraged those wishing to be part of it to sign up soon.
Registration can be completed online at uaca.org.
While the event is free and open to all Upper Arlington children, organizers said space is limited and is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
Because all UACA events, including Christmas in the Park and the annual July Fourth parade and fireworks, are funded by membership fees, preference for Christmas in the Park reservations also is given to families who are current members of the UACA.
"Even with four days, we still always have more demand than we can accommodate," said Doug Peterson, a UACA event director for Christmas in the Park. "Next to the Fourth of July parade and fireworks, this is probably our biggest event.
"It's become a bit of a tradition, and a lot of people use the word 'magical' to describe it," he said.
Christmas in the Park registration doesn't just afford children the opportunity to visit with Santa, although it does that, too.
Upon arrival at Thompson Park, participants first visit a shelter house in the center of the park, where they're invited to complete craft projects and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks.
From there, children are given a ride in a horsedrawn carriage to a separate shelter house to see Santa. In the event of rain or other inclement weather, covered transportation is offered.
"When it's their turn, they jump on the horsedrawn carriage and ride to the shelter house where Santa is," Peterson said. "They can really interact with him on a very personal basis."
In addition to visits with Santa, children also can meet Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, Frosty the snowman and Scotty Pine, a talking pine tree said to reside in Thompson Park.
Photo opportunities are available throughout each child's visit.
"It's a really neat event," said Matt Wilhite, a UACA event director. "This is not your usual shopping center Santa; this is the real deal."
Additional Christmas in the Park information is available at uaca.org.