The annual Santa Race 5K and Little Reindeer Dash will kick off December festivities in Gahanna.

Presented by Mount Carmel Health System, the fun will be held Dec. 2 with registration beginning at 8 a.m. at Creekside Plaza, 117 Mill St.

The event will feature a new course taking runners and walkers through Creekside Park to Veterans Memorial Park and through surrounding areas.

Because of the event's increasing popularity, a new course was devised to accommodate more participants.

The first 500 runners will receive medals, T-shirts and more. To register for the race, go to visitgahanna.com.

The annual Holiday Character Breakfast presented by Meijer will return from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 9 at Centerpoint Church Gahanna, 620 McCutcheon Road.

"Each year, we see many of the same faces who return to celebrate what has become an annual tradition for them," said Laurie Jadwin, director of the Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Judging from the smiling faces and laughs that we see, it is hard to say who enjoys catching their pancakes more -- the adults or the children."

The event will feature a special performance by the Columbus Children's Theatre, an all-you-can-eat-pancake breakfast, arts and crafts, and photographs with favorite holiday characters.

After the breakfast, guests of all ages can visit Santa and share their wish lists.

Through the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department, visits with Santa will be held at the Ohio Herb Education Center, 110 Mill St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16.

Visitors can join Santa at the local North Pole Annex, also known as the Herb Center, to share visions of sugar plums, toy soldiers and ponies. As guests enter, they will be greeted by Santa's elves and guided to the letter-writing station as they wait to meet Santa and pose for a keepsake photograph.

Afterward, visitors can step into Mrs. Claus' Parlor for a make-and-take gift experience.

All ages are welcome.

The cost is $5 per craft/photo or three items for $12.

A Sensory Friendly Visit with Santa -- an event for children and their families who may need a more relaxed environment with less sensory input -- will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 10.

Santa and his elves will meet with children, however they are most comfortable.

The Herb Center has accessibility for wheelchairs or those with mobility issues. A limited number of appointments are available and the price includes a photograph.

The cost is $5 for residents and $7 for others.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla