By PETE FONTAINE The Coronavirus couldn't dampen the Christmas spirit or clever creations at the Tri-City Elks at 1915 West Shore Road in Warwick. Mark Eaton, a past Exalted Ruler and current president of the Rhode Island Association of Elks, had "e;a
The Coronavirus couldn’t dampen the Christmas spirit or clever creations at the Tri-City Elks at 1915 West Shore Road in Warwick.
Mark Eaton, a past Exalted Ruler and current president of the Rhode Island Association of Elks, had “a brainstorm idea” that enabled dozens upon dozens of children to see Santa Claus last weekend.
Because children couldn’t go to department stores and sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas, he suggested a Drive-By event and emphasized “could and will make a difference in a lot of children’s lives this holiday season.”
Eaton put out an e-mail suggesting the idea and asked Lodge 14 members if they’d be interested in helping produce the ambitious event.
“Before long I had lots of volunteers and Lori Amoroso volunteered to coordinate the Drive-By to see Santa,” Eaton explained, noting with special thankfulness ringing in his voice “that’s no surprise; we have lots of dedicated Elks who are always willing to step up whenever there’s a need and an event for children.”
Although rain caused a bit of a problem for Saturday’s Drive-By, Sunday’s session was non-stop with vehicles following specially-made sign to the North Pole and in front of Lodge 14 where Santa – a.k.a. Bob Hartington and Eric Lopes – were housed inside a red-canopy covered tent.
Tri-City’s Drive-By to see Santa wasn’t just a plain old mom and dad’s driving their car in front of the Elks so their children could wave and see Santa, it was a special salute for the kids replete with a number of decorations that transformed Lodge 14 into a colorful winter wonderland.
Moreover, Rob Caramante – Tri-City’s fun-loving music man – and his son Matthew came decked out in holiday garb Sunday and played Christmas songs and carols until the five-hour fun-fest wrapped up after the scheduled 4 o’clock closing time.
When asked for her assessment of the two-day Drive-By with Santa, Amoroso offered with a pleasing smile on her face: “Great; it couldn’t’ have been better. We had an estimated 100 families pass through here and people were thanking us for hosting an uplifting event and suggested we do it again next year.”
Amoroso also issued a “Thank You” to the 23 Elks who volunteered Saturday and nearly two-dozen people who volunteered Sunday holding colorful hand-made signs for the entrance and exit to Tri-City’s North Pole and others who tackled the chore of breaking down the unique holiday display and tucking it nicely away until Christmas, 2021 and as Eaton offered “will hopefully be a lot different than these difficult and trying times we’re all going through and all our Christmas traditions will continue without interruption.”
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