Visits with St. Nick and life-sized Disney characters, pony rides and a petting zoo drew about 500 families with youngsters Sunday to the sixth annual Day Out with Santa at the Best Western Carriage House Inn on Washington Street.
Admiring her daughter, Sofia, as she rode a spotted pony named Patches around the parking lot, Tatiana S. Rodnikova said the 6-year-old hopes to own horses and live on a farm when she gets older.
Three ponies gave children rides, while a hodgepodge of sheep, goats and alpacas was featured at a petting zoo. Indoors, children gave Santa their wish lists and mingled with the Incredible Hulk, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
As a military wife who lives in Watertown, Mrs. Rodnikova heard about the free event on Facebook from her friends.
Im glad we made it, because its not easy to get on a pony here in the city, said the Russia native, whose husband, Jose, originally from Texas, has served three years at Fort Drum. She wants to live in the country.
Moving her hand across a sheeps fuzzy back, Sofia said, I want to have sheep on the farm as well.
Military wives Theresa M. Tiburcio and Lovely T. Robinksy, who are friends on Facebook, attended the family-fun affair for the first time.
Its free and easy for us to get here, said Mrs. Tiburcio, accompanied by her three daughters and son: Isabella M., 3, Patrick M., 8, Jazmine M., 10, and Patricia M., 12.
I hope to be back next year, she said.
For Jeffrey W. Burr, the Santa were him a chance to find out what his children wanted for Christmas by listening in. His 5-year-old son, Nicholas A., wants a telescope; George J., 3, wants a rocket and trucks, and Alexis, 1, asked for dolls.
This makes them happy and hopefully teaches them not to be afraid of Santa, he said, adding that his wife, Whitney C., learned about the event online. Were coming back next year.
The ponies and farm animals were provided during the event by Spirit Wind Farms, north of Buffalo in Niagara County.