For the third consecutive year the Monticello Harness Racing Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with Monticello Casino and Raceway, presented a Free Holiday Party for the local children on Sunday afternoon, December 18 which was highlighted by the appearance of Santa Claus himself.
“As we’ve done over the past few seasons that Sunday card was mainly for one specific purpose,” noted Shawn Wiles, the facility’s assistant general manager.”We don’t usually race on Sunday afternoons but we add this special racing program so the horsemen can hold their Holiday Party for the children.”
According to Dale Berenson, the executive secretary of the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, the party was a raging success.
“It (the party) was wonderful…fabulous… we had between 500 and 600 people attending,” she gushed.”It’s a good thing we held the party where we did because if we held it where we had in the past there would never have been enough room to accommodate everyone.”
The party, co-sponsored by Monticello Casino and Raceway, was for all children from toddler to 12 years of age was held on the third floor of the track’s grandstand. It was decorated to the nines by the staff of Partymaster of Hurleyville, NY, and to the delight of the children, the room was transformed into a wonderland North Pole.
Every child got a chance to visit with Santa and they had their photo taken with old St. Nick. And each received numerous presents. There were various games to play and many had their, faces made-up by a professional face painter. But arguably the highlights of the party were the many raffles held during the afternoon. Given away were 10 shiny new bicycles, a remote control race car, life-size play houses, dolls, board games and stuffed animals. And to say the winners were joyous would be a gross understatement .
The entire event was MC’d by Eric Bressi, aka “Elvis’ Long Lost Brother”, who once again donated his services and the horsemen were real lucky to have the Elvis impersonator as the master of ceremonies because he does a magnificent job . He, along with his wife Ruth Bress-- his DJ--, kept everyone singing dancing and having a grand time all afternoon.
However, all the fun for the children wasn’t relegated t the third floor of the grandstand . Outside on the track’s apron there were ponies dressed in holiday regalia for the children to pet, feed and take photos with.
And on the racetrack 11 races went to post with the feature, the Candy Cane Pace won by Allikait Fighter driven by the meets leading driver Bruce Aldrich, Jr. Many of the attending children joined Aldrich and Allikait Fighter in the winners circle and all were presented a striped candy cane.
Prior to the Candy Cane Pace Santa Claus came to the winners circle on a jog cart pulled by a black and white paint. When the rotund one disembarked from the cart he posed with the paint that brought him there and then shouted to the crowd “Ho Ho Ho and a Merry Christmas to All.”