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Parrish spreads Christmas cheer

PARRISH -- Marie Davis came with her2-year-old granddaughter to the annual Parrish Christmas party for disadvantaged children and looked around the community center at a sea of little faces.

“They’re all beautiful,” Davis said of the children who came for the exquisite cookies -- 120 dozen of them -- baked by the women of River Wilderness, a visit with Santa, and gifts of toys to take home.

“I think it’s wonderful for the kids. It gets them in the spirit of the holiday,” Davis said.

Iris McClain, chairwoman of this year’s party, a Parrish tradition for more than 20 years, said 125 children turned out Thursday.

Invitations go out to farmworker camps and elsewhere where there are children that might go without.

“This makes our year. We all look forward to it,” McClain said.

The event started with children passing through the cookie line, where they could also pick up a carton of Tropicana orange juice, or maybe they started at the face painting table. Then they moved into the community room for caroling, while waiting for Santa.

The anticipation built as the children joined in singing “Feliz Navidad” and finally “Here Comes Santa Claus” before Santa and Mrs. Claus entered the room to cheers.

The first to make their way into the arms of Santa and Mrs. Claus were the Calixtro sisters, Luzestrella, Alondra and Joselin.

It was hard to tell who had the bigger smiles, the three sisters or the Clauses.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.