Despite rain on the parade, families showed up on Congress Avenue on Saturday to kick off the Christmas season and donate toys to less fortunate children.
Chuy’s Mexican restaurant sponsored the Children Giving to Children Parade for the 23rd year and offered a place for toy donations to Operation Blue Santa, a program led by the Austin Police Department to bring Christmas to children in need. The parade is named Children Giving to Children because at the end of the parade, Blue Santa Toy Trucks accept toy donations from children to be given to other children for Christmas.
Despite the rainy weather, there was a rush of running kids to the trucks when Santa’s Helpers lifted the ribbons guarding the street.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a child, and now I’m bringing my own,” parent Brandon Cummings said. “These kids just get a kick out of it, and I enjoyed it as a kid.”
After first experiencing giving during the holidays last year when they prepared a gift box for a homeless woman, Rachel Mazerolle said her children wanted to help more people this year. Although her children are young, they are old enough to know they are helping other children,she said.
“We said we were going to come out here rain or shine,” Mazerolle said. “We love to give and seeing the big balloon animals doesn’t hurt.”
Mazerolle said her kids are giving a stuffed animal this year because the economy has been rough, and it was hard to afford more pricey gifts.
“We want to help any way we can, and an animal works for either a girl or boy,” she said.
William Biggs’ two children were anxious to give their toys to the Toy Truck, Biggs said. This was the Biggs’ second year giving because they had become addicted to the giving spirit after the first time, Biggs said.
“My son was barely walking last year so he needed help getting his gift to the Toy Truck,” Biggs said. “This year he might do it on his own.”
Some Chuy’s employees, including Stan Jones, volunteered as Santa’s Helpers. The employees were strictly volunteer and not paid as a Chuy’s employee for the job, Jones said.
“The best part of this job is lifting the ribbon to let the kids through with their donations,” Jones said. “They keep wanting to run out into the parade the whole time, and I have to keep them back and safe until the right time comes.”
Printed on Monday, November 28, 2011: Rainy day fails to stop parade, kids donate gifts to Blue Santa