Santa greets hundreds at Grove Street holiday event

Dozens of children looked around eagerly in all directions Saturday evening at Grove Street Plaza in Darien, anticipating the arrival of Santa.

They didn’t have long to wait.

While the young — and young at heart — cheered and clapped, the large man in the red suit and white beard waved from a second floor window above the Melting Pot. He then climbed down the “chimney” to greet everyone.

He took a seat in the middle of the plaza, while one by one, children took turns sitting on his lap and telling him what they want for Christmas.

This was the 10th year of the event, called Holiday Magic.

Throughout the evening, children got a chance to take a ride on Lucy the Polar Bear and Rudy the Reindeer, which were large moving toy animals.

Five-year-old Jack Houlihan of Darien said he liked riding Rudy and would “ride on him again.”

“It was really bouncy,” said Jack, who was at Holiday Magic for the first time.

Jack said that for Christmas he has asked Santa for “a marble tower.”

Some people gathered in small groups to hear the Darien High School Tudor Singers sing popular Christmas carols. Others sipped hot cocoa.

Darien resident Sarah Love, who was with her son Andrew, 2, said she “loves” all of the family events for young children that takes place in town throughout the year.

Bridget Ward, who came with her 1-year-old daughter Annie and 6-month-old son Charlie, said she went to last week’s tree lighting and is happy to get “another chance” to see Santa.

This Christmas, Bridget said she plans to stay home.

“Family can all come to us,” said Bridget, of Darien.

Alisson Kiss, who moved to town at the end of the summer from Manhattan, N.Y., said she and her children — Madelyn, 18 months and Lilly, 3 — liked “the hot cocoa, riding the reindeer, and seeing the lights, carolers, and all the kids.”

Marine Devillers of Darien, who brought her 2-year-old daughter Gabby, said this is her third year at Holiday Magic.

“It has the vibe of Christmas,” she said. “It opens up the holiday season.”

Holiday Magic was created and put together by Bill Jensen, owner of the Toy Box on Boston Post Road.

Contributing to the event is the Darien Chamber of Commerce, PG Properties Builders, P Glassmeyer Inc., Baywater Properties, and the Melting Pot.

When the Darien Times asked Jensen — a.k.a. Santa’s helper — why he puts on Holiday Magic every year, he pointed to some young children who were standing nearby, looking around in awe and wearing big smiles on their faces.   

“That’s why,” Jensen said. “It’s to see the children smile.”