In mid December, your Mission Viejo / Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 hosted a super Christmas party for the developmentally challenged men, women and children of the Saddleback Valley. Over 200 special guests, ranging in age from sixteen to sixty-six, were served lunch, danced to the sounds of Jim Mouth and sat with Santa and Mrs. Claus, all receiving an instant framed photo. The Laguna Woods “Clown Alley” clowns were again on hand in full regalia passing out balloon hats and bringing smiles to the faces of the party-goers. Santa and Mrs. Claus (MV Elks Ed and Pam Mackey) arrived atop the “Big John” firetruck driven by PDDGER Harvey Boelts. It was a great day to be an Elk and provide a bright day for the men, women and children. A BIG thank you to Sandy Bergan, Les and Maggie Stipek for their event organization and to all that volunteered for this year’s event.
And then came the moment. A big red fire truck arrived with sirens blaring. Riding atop the truck, and waving to all as the truck pulled up to the Elks Lodge, was none other than Santa Claus Ed Mackay & Mrs. Claus Elk Pam Mackay. The jolly couple worked their way through the crowded dance floor with many hugs and warm greetings for all before retreating to a special room to make ready for the individual visits. Each guest enjoyed his or her own personal time with Santa and received a bag full of gifts. Photographers Dan Dean and Dave Anderson worked their magic and provided framed color photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus for each guest.
Elk Les Stipek with wife Maggie chaired the event. Stipek offered a special thanks to the Elks Bingo Charity committee for their ongoing sponsorship. At day’s end, a very tired but still glowing Santa said, “It’s an organized frenzy, but as usual we somehow manage to pull it off. We just love seeing so many smiles and how much happiness the party brings to these wonderful people.” Past Lodge President Pat Martino, a veteran worker at the event said, “I wouldn’t miss being here every year. Some of these same special guests have been attending this party for 25 years and look forward to returning each year. Our Elk’s members do whatever it takes to give them a fun day at the Lodge.”
This year’s Elk helpers included: Bonnie, Ed & Pam Mackey, Joe, Sean, Ella & Lila Shively, Mary Ann and Andy Costello, Zaik & Nate Janse, Pat & Barbara Martino, Gloria LeCouvre, Debby King, Jessie & Susan Rodriguez, Charlie Hart, Jesse & JoAnn Hunt, Sandie McClure, Diana Wilson, Jack & Sandy Jacobs, Lloyd &Carol Bryan, Jinnae Wessling, Margie Brown, Harvey Boelts, Dennis & Laura Lumley, Dinah Grosch, Dotty White, Dan Dean, David Anderson, Julie Thomas, Roy Southerland & Kate Murphy, Gail Patti, Jill Benson, Debbie Lamb, Mike & Judy Klinger, Dave Perry, Jim & Carol Glover, Doug & Janelle Olson, Barbara King, Janie Farris, Ed Guthrie, Brian Johansen, Frank & Sandy Scarpine, and Nancy Drennon.
By Andy Costello
Photography by Mike Klinger