Local

A simpler list for Santa this year

jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Santa Claus fielded requests from local children for everything from a toy lightsaber to “Star Wars” Legos on a chilly Thursday evening at Santa’s House in Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.

According to Sarah Ragan, promotions coordinator for the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, gift requests have gotten simpler this year. Bicycles, skateboards and soccer balls are among the items that local kids are asking for this Christmas.

“In the past, a lot of kids have brought in catalogs and pointed things out,” Ragan said, adding that children are more likely to show Santa an illustrated, handwritten list this year.

Five-year-old Ashton Cohn of Shell Beach came fully prepared.

“I want ‘Star Wars’ Legos, a skateboard ... a train table ... a scooter,” he said, “and candy!”

“Seventy-five percent of kids are asking for actual toys and books” such as Barbie dolls and Pillow Pets stuffed animals, Ragan said, rather than high-tech gadgets.

At the Holiday House in downtown Paso Robles, kids are asking St. Nick for dolls and skateboards as well as iPads and video games, said Norma Moye, executive director of the Paso Robles Main Street Association.

Sometimes, Moye said, the kids have to explain their requests to technology-shy Santa.

That hasn’t stopped local children from asking, however.

Kayla Bain, 12, of Atascadero wants a new cellphone, although she has “no clue” what kind. She also plans to save her holiday gift money to buy an iPod Touch.

Santa Maria resident Chase Arensdorf, 12, is asking for a personal computer, preferably a MacBook. His 5-year-old sister, Serra, wants “a princess bike with a doll carrier in front,” while his 10-year-old brother, Grayson, wouldn’t mind a few video games for his Xbox 360.

He’s also asked Santa for a guinea pig.

“I’ve been wanting one since first grade,” Grayson Arensdorf explained.

Organizers estimate that at least 1,500 visitors will pass through Santa’s House before it closes on Christmas Day. As many as 500 children have visited already, said Joey Chavez, special projects and social media coordinator for the Downtown Association.

The beginning of winter break will bring even more children, Chavez said.

“The big push is next week,” he said.

Want to see Santa Claus in SLO?

You can meet the jolly old St. Nick from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Santa’s House at Mission Plaza. Every child will receive a candy cane, toy and coloring book free of charge; pictures with Santa cost $5 to $11. Santa’s House is open all week. Call 541-0286 or visit www.downtownslo.com for more information.

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