BRADENTON -- Santa made the lo-o-o-ong trip from the North Pole, landing Saturday in Bradenton's G.T. Bray park to bring some joy to boys and girls.
Six-year-old Aliyah Chaykin loved seeing Santa up close, she said, as she clutched a candy cane.
"I liked it when he gave me a candy cane," Aliyah said smiling.
Mrs. Claus made a good impression on her, too.
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"She was pretty," she said.
Aliyah was looking forward to visit him, she said. And she had one secret wish to tell Santa.
"I want a big Elsa house," she said.
Hundreds of children jumped up and down flashing big smiles as Santa and Mrs. Claus landed on their helicopter at Manatee County's annual A Night Before Christmas event.
Children were given candy canes as the rushed Santa and Mrs. Claus, before they made their way over to the sleigh.
Seven-year-old Kaiden Friedman was having a blast throwing snow balls while his older brother and parents watched and laughed.
"It's cold and hard, " Kaiden said.
Never having seen snow before, he was excited to play in it, he said. He really enjoyed the snow slide.
"I almost slipped off," he said with a smile and a giggle. But he was "still having fun."
He also saw Santa land on the baseball field, he said.
"He came off the helicopter from the North Pole," he said.
Kaiden hadn't made it over to take a seat with a seat with Santa yet but he already knew what he was going to ask him.
"I want a hat," Kaiden said.
In addition to Santa, there was lots for children and their families to see and do at the annual event including face painting, snow to play in and bounce houses.
Drake Hogg, 8, was already in line with his mom for a chance to take a photo with Santa.
"I want to get a picture," Drake said. "My mom likes pictures."
There's only one thing he wants from Santa this year, he said: Lego dimensions. Mom agreed he'd been nice this year so he was optimistic about getting his wish.
After his visit to Santa, Drake planned on going into the bouncy house.
"I'm not trying to do everything," he said. "Things like face painting, I'm not into."
He had already tried out the snow slide.
"It was amazing," he exclaimed. "It was really wet, too, because I splashed into a puddle and it was really cold like the North Pole."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.