Southland kids have an ice time with Santa
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org December 24, 2012 3:36PM
Anthony Kairis, 5, of Oak Forest, smiles as Santa skates by at the Free Skate With Santa at the Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Illinois, Monday, December 24, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:20AM
Just a few hours before his busiest night of the year, Santa Claus took time to skate on Christmas Eve with about 300 of his closest friends.
The jolly old elf strapped on a pair of skates and spent about 90 minutes Monday skating at the Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, in a popular annual event that dates back nearly 40 years.
There’s no admission fee, skate rental is free and, most important, it gives kids some valuable face time with the big guy in the red-and-white suit.
“A lot of them are asking for Xboxes for themselves and perfume for Mom. Dad? They’re not asking for anything for Dad,” Santa said.
Um, shouldn’t he have spent the day at the North Pole, getting ready for his busy night?
“I’ve got the elves for that,” Santa said.
Children clamored for the chance to skate with Santa around the rink. He frequently paused so parents could take photos of him with the kids.
Santa did tumble to the ice once, but landed on his backside. No injury was reported.
Evelyn Cunneen, 7, of Blue Island, said she enjoyed skating with Santa.
“It was good. He’s friendly,” Evelyn said.
Evelyn, however, made one mistake by not taking advantage of a golden opportunity.
“I didn’t ask,” she replied when asked if she put in a last-minute special request.
Her mother, Elizabeth, said Evelyn “wants toys, lots of toys.”
“This was fun for the community to come out and skate,” Elizabeth said.
Jordan Nunez, 5, and big brother Anthony Nunez, 8, were thrilled to learn that Santa enjoys playing hockey. Each Crestwood boy wore an Anaheim Ducks hockey jersey.
“I told him, ‘Thank you for the presents,’ ” Jordan said.
Anthony said he’s looking forward to a new hockey stick.
Chloe Turner, 9, of Crestwood, kept her request for Santa simple.
“You know what I would love from Santa Claus this year? A Nintendo DS. That’s all I would want. I’ve been a really good girl,” Chloe said.
Santa assured her “you got it” when Chloe asked about the Nintendo DS.
As people left the ice arena, owner Frank DiCristina and general manager Rick Faron handed each family a $10 gift card that can be redeemed at the ice arena.
DiCristina said he’s continuing a tradition started by his father in 1976 by offering free skating with Santa on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a way to give back to the community,” DiCristina said.
After he was done skating, Santa sat on a folding chair, visiting with children and handing out small candy canes.
He was quick to scold one boy who had gathered enough ice shavings from the rink’s surface to make a snowball large enough to inflict some serious damage if thrown at someone.
“That,” Santa told the boy, “is a good way to get on the ‘naughty’ list.”
There’s no tempting fate, especially on Christmas Eve. The boy promptly tossed the snowball into a garbage can.