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Santa Spotted At Racetrack


Published: December 20, 2011 1:48 pm ET

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For the third consecutive year, the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, in conjunction with Monticello Casino and Raceway, presented a free holiday party for the local children on Sunday, December 18, highlighted by the appearance of Santa Claus himself.

“As we’ve done over the past few seasons, that Sunday card was mainly for one specific purpose,” noted Shawn Wiles, the facility’s assistant general manager. "We don’t usually race on Sunday afternoons, but we add this special racing program so the horsemen can hold their holiday party for the children.”

According to Dale Berenson, the executive secretary of the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, the party was a raging success.

“It (the party) was wonderful… fabulous… we had between 500 and 600 people (attend),” she gushed. "It’s a good thing we held the party where we did because if we held it where we had in the past there would never have been enough room to accommodate everyone.”

The party, co-sponsored by Monticello Casino and Raceway, was for all children as young as toddlers to those 12 years of age. The track's third-floor grandstand was decorated to the nines by the staff of Partymaster of Hurleyville, New York. To the delight of the children, the room was transformed into a wonderland North Pole.

Every child got a chance to visit with Santa and have their photo taken with 'Ole St. Nick.' Each child in attendance also received numerous presents. There were various games to play and many had their, faces made-up by a professional face painter. But arguably the highlights of the party were the many raffles held during the afternoon. Ten shiny new bicycles, a remote control race car, life-size play houses, dolls, board games and stuffed animals were given away. And to say the winners were joyous would be a gross understatement.

The entire event was emceed by Eric Bressi, aka 'Elvis’ Long Lost Brother,' who once again donated his services. Bressi, along with his deejay/wife Ruth Bressi, kept everyone singing dancing and having a grand time all afternoon.

However, all the fun for the children wasn’t relegated to the third floor of the grandstand. There were ponies dressed in holiday regalia for the children to pet, feed and take photos with outside on the track’s apron.

Eleven races went to post on the racetrack, with the feature, the Candy Cane Pace, won by the Bruce Aldrich, Jr.-driven Allikait Fighter. Many of the attending children joined Aldrich and Allikait Fighter in the winners circle, and all were presented a striped candy cane.

Prior to the Candy Cane Pace, Santa Claus came to the winner's circle on a jog cart pulled by a black and white 'paint.' When the rotund one disembarked from the cart, he posed with the paint that brought him there and then shouted to the crowd, “Ho Ho Ho! And a Merry Christmas to all!”


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