Ken Magnus of Park City playing Mr. Claus and Tammy Torres of Waukegan playing Mrs. Claus greet Samantha Range, 10, outside of her home while they travel inside of Park City for their annual Santa Run. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 11, 2013 6:15AM
Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted Park City residents with holiday music and candy when they drove through every street in the city in their sleigh Sunday.
Park City police escorted the sleigh for the city’s annual Santa Run.
“We’ve been doing this for 31 years, just because the people in town love it,” said Mayor Steve Pannell. “It’s a big deal for Park City ... I believe we are the only town in Lake County that does this.”
City employees spent the last week putting together 1,500-2,000 bags of candy. They visited every street in town, starting at 10 a.m. and finished by early evening.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years. This probably is the thing I love doing the most,” Pannell said.
Throughout the run, Santa and Mrs. Claus stop for photos with residents. Kids run out from the homes in their pajamas to say hello and get their candy.
Brenda Lara, 5, and Ricardo Lara, 10, were among the first Park City children to see Santa this year.
“It’s real cool. Every year, we come out and watch him,” Ricardo said.
There was no sleigh for Santa the first few years the city started doing the Santa Run, according to Park City Police Patrolman Danny Oldham of Grayslake. He has been participating in the Santa Run since it first started.
Santa literally rode on the hood of a police car. Oldham drove the squad car.
“Santa took half my vision away. At the end of the day, we were always relieved nothing happened. We worked by hand signals,” Oldham said.
Volunteers built the sleigh that is used every year. Oldham drives the truck that pulls the sleigh.
He said he has seen many kids in the area grow up and have kids of their own.
“I see that and it’s touching, especially the comments (of appreciation) from parents,” Oldham said.
He said the Santa Run demonstrates the “compassion of the city” and helps show another side to law enforcement. Squad cars drive in front of and behind the sleigh for everyone’s safety.
“It’s something to pay back to the children and let the children know policemen have a different role. It’s showing the community that police have compassion for them,” Oldham said.