Sometime around 2 Sunday afternoon, about 60 children who had been scurrying all over the recently renovated downstairs multi-purpose room inside the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14, made a dash toward …
Sometime around 2 Sunday afternoon, about 60 children who had been scurrying all over the recently renovated downstairs multi-purpose room inside the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14, made a dash toward the glass double doors.
Excitement was building as the children awaited the arrival of the day’s grandest of guests, Santa Claus.
All of a sudden a striking silver vehicle, which is a 40 and 8 Train that belongs to the William Shields American Legion Post, driven by Chuck Holmes, appeared with Santa with his snow-white beard, red suit and pot belly.
“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa shouted amid the children’s cheers and thunderous applause from some 100 adults, “Merry Christmas.”
For the next several hours, the children enjoyed a lunch courtesy of the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14 that included hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza and much more. Perhaps Bob Hartington, an officer and popular member with the Warwick-based Elks Lodge, best summed up Tri-City’s annual Community Children’s Christmas Party.
“Santa’s having a great time,” Hartington began while watching jolly Old Saint Nick lift youngsters on his left and right knee near a beautiful Christmas tree and tables topped with a myriad of wrapped presents. “But the look on the children’s faces is priceless.”
Hartington, like others, including Tri-City’s Exalted Ruler Mark Eaton, was admittedly overcome with emotion that resulted from yet another grand gesture of helping people in the community.
“This is exactly why people join the Elks,” Eaton said while talking with Hartington and a large, burly man Lodge 14 members know simply as “Grif,” who also reinforced that theory. “They want to do something that makes a difference in people’s lives, no matter what their age.”
Warwick City Councilman Joseph Solomon, a prominent Warwick attorney who doubles as a member of Lodge 14, added, “This is priceless; absolutely priceless. We were all choked up when Santa arrived. I’m real proud of our Lodge. Again the Elks have made Christmas special for these children.”
Yet another man who made the day a special success was Jake Holmes, Chuck’s brother and Lodge 14 member, who served as the Train’s conductor, replete with his own special old-time uniform.
“Hey, we’ve got our own Polar Express,” he said.
In the middle of this heart-warming Christmas celebration was Lori Eaton, the Exalted Ruler’s wife who was ably assisted by Tina Levesque, who initiated the event to make sure children in the community had a special party that otherwise might not have taken place.
“We, as Elks, love doing things like this,” she said while wiping tears of joy from her eyes. “When you witness this, it makes all the [hard] work worth every penny!”