Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
When families arrived at Holiday in the Valley at Valley Ranch Library, the first thing they saw was Train Engineer Tim Scholz twisting and turning his trackless train named ‘Stanley the Steam Engine’ through a blocked off portion of the parking lot. Inside, the library glowed with holiday lights while the fragrance of popcorn and hot chocolate filled the air.
Children talked to Santa as parents took their children’s pictures with the Big Man. Even some of Santa’s elves stood ready for photos. Professional balloon artists crafted balloon hats, candy canes, snow globes, reindeer hats and more. A puppet show played in one room while children took their turns at a prize wheel in another.
“(This event) started about 15 years ago just as an open house to thank all our customers for supporting us, and it has grown into this,” said Valley Ranch Library Branch Manager Patty Mount. “We started off with maybe 250 people to over 1,000 that come to this now.”
This was Dee Pti’s fourth year to come with her family.
“My son is six, and he loves coming every year taking pictures with Santa and the puppet show,” Pti said. “We come to Story Time at the library on Tuesday nights. They do a good show, and they are very organized. It’s nice that they have the train ride outside, because it’s spreading the traffic, and so it’s not so chaotic inside.”
Jihyum Lee said that after seeing Santa last year, her children talked about it for days.
“The candy he gives them is like a precious, precious treasure to them,” Lee said. “We expect they will have the same joy this time. This is the real Christmas to them.”
Valley Ranch Library, Cimarron Park Recreation Center, and the Friends of Irving Public Library sponsored the event on Dec. 14. Valley Ranch Homeowners' Association provided the train rides, and Java Me Up was there with free cups of hot chocolate.