Once a year, the pavilion at Puyallup’s Pioneer Park is decorated with red, white and green and set up with the aromatic smell of Christmas.
For several hundred senior citizens, it marks a special time when they can go together and enjoy each other’s company during the annual Christmas party.
“It’s very simple for every event I do — just make them happy,” said Trudi Bocott, the senior services assistant for the City of Puyallup.
“I like to do it bigger and bigger every year. Seniors appreciate it so much.”
When senior citizens and 150 music students from Ferrucci Junior High School gathered Friday, along with Santa and Mrs. Claus and other city dignitaries, Bocott’s promise rang true.
Enough food to serve more than 400 people was donated. The Puyallup Food Bank was a main sponsor. Silver Creek Retirement Home off 176th and Meridian donated the holiday cakes.
Senior citizens lined up to take their pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, performed by David German and wife, Valene Patton-German. Each attendee received a stocking gift full of treats that included candy, a can of salmon and a bag of Tim’s Cascade potato chips.
Hannah Patton, Valene’s daughter, helped Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with her 3-year-old son, Seth.
“I’m an elf all year for them,” Hannah said. “They try to get as many donations as possible.”
“We couldn’t do this without our sponsors,” Valene added. One was Ocean Beauty, which donated the cans of salmon.
German said he loves the Christmas atmosphere.
“Everything about it,” he said.
Annetta Muldoon, one of the many who got their picture taken, said meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus is the highlight of the party.
“I enjoy everyone coming together, the music and all that,” Muldoon said.
Many senior citizens said visiting with friends is something they look forward to.
“It’s such a warm and cozy place to be,” Genny Randall said.
Randall and her friend, Mary McIntyre, have bought each other gifts for several years. They met four years ago on a train trip to Portland, Ore.
“I gave Genny a salt lamp last year, and she’s still talking about it,” McIntyre said. “We enjoy being with everyone at the center. People are so friendly.”
Party attendees also had an opportunity to listen to several holiday-inspired songs that were performed by the orchestra, band and choir groups from Ferrucci Junior High.
Bocott thanked Brian Fox, executive director of communications, information and arts education at the Puyallup School District, for getting the 150 students to the pavilion.
“This is a great opportunity for members of the community who don’t have students in school to see student musicians demonstrate what they are learning in school,” Fox said.
Ferrucci Principal Steve Leifsen said students worked really hard to prepare the music.
“We’re really excited to showcase what students can do with good instruction,” Leifsen said. “We have excellent instruction in our school.”
Bocott was pleased with volunteer Lena Familetti, who hand-knit 150 Christmas stockings for each Ferrucci student. Each stocking, which was made of red, white and green yarn, held a six-inch candy cane.
Familetti said knitting helps to fight the arthritis in both her hands.
“It keeps my hands busy,” she said. “I enjoy doing what I do. I help others, and that helps me.”
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew