Santa, Grinch, kids, all part of Port Byron Christmas Walk

Santa Claus raises his hands and with help from the crowd the Christmas tree in gazebo was lit to start the Port Byron Christmas Walk on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023.

PORT BYRON – Santa arrived on a Rapids City fire truck Friday, lit the village’s Christmas tree, and battled the Grinch to keep the tree lit, but when he started to walk to the library for his typical sit-down with kids and their Christmas lists, one 7-year-old had a couple of questions.

“Where’s Mrs. Santa?,” asked Brayden Tadlock of Port Byron as walked ahead of Santa with his mom and sister, Makayla, 8.

“She’s home baking cookies,” replied the North Pole resident. “She’s very busy preparing for Christmas.”

But Brayden wasn’t done. “Do you go to China?,” he asked. Santa nodded and continued on to the library, escorted by two toddlers.

The Tadlock family was one of many who came to Port Byron’s downtown on Friday, Dec. 8 to welcome Santa to town and partake in several holiday activities.

The Children’s Choir opened the event at 5:30 p.m. singing Christmas songs at the gazebo before Santa arrived.

“Now everyone has to help me light this tree,” Santa said to the large and anxious crowd surrounding the gazebo.

With kids helping with the countdown, the tree was lit and Santa was just about ready to head to the library when “he” appeared.

The Grinch slithered up behind the gazebo and with his back to the Mississippi River and under the cover of darkness he sneaked up the stairs, creeped up to the tree, and pulled the electrical cord causing the lights to go out on the tree. He then escaped into the darkness.

But Santa and kids quickly got the tree relit and the night continued.

Santa led a long line of kids from the gazebo down Main Street to the River Valley District Library where he sat down with his young followers to learn what they wanted for Christmas.

Brayden told Santa he wanted a leopard gecko and promised he’d make sure to take care of the little lizard who would be named “Smallfoot”.

“I will take care of him and I will feed him crickets,” said Brayden, smiling.

Wayleigh Johnson, 7, of Port Byron, quietly sat next to Santa and asked for a teddy bear.

“She keeps changing what she wants,” said her mom who made sure Wayleigh’s letter made it into Santa’s mailbox.

Downstairs at the library, carolers sang Christmas songs and the Friends of Library held a bake sale as a fundraiser.

Down the street at Village Hall, hot cocoa and chicken noodle soup were served and a Letter Station was set up where kids could write their own letter to Santa.

That’s where Max Brockmann, 10, of Port Byron, carefully made out his list that included bunk beds for him and his brother and a robot.

Next door at the fire station, Jozie Drummond, 7, and her brother, Gabe, 9, of Port Byron, examined one of the Rapids City fire engines. Jozie climbed up to the driver’s seat for a photo while Gabe checked out some of the controls.

When asked if she planned on being a firefighter, Jozie said no, “I want to be a veterinarian.”

“I want to be a firefighter when I grow up,” Gabe quickly interjected.

Friday’s event was held under clear skies with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees — unseasonably warm for Dec. 8.

“The weather is perfect,” quipped one parent.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.