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Kids' party at the Mesa Lab: Santa, elves, and "controlled chaos"

When Mom or Dad works at UCAR, you're assured of at least one perk at holiday time: an extra visit from Santa. Each year on a Saturday morning the Employee Activities Committee herds about 200 children of staff into the ML cafeteria for three hours of merriment bordering on mayhem.

"It's very high-energy. The kids' excitement is infectious." says Paula Drager, who coordinated this year's bash for the EAC on 7 December. The highlight for many of the youngsters was a chance to sit on Santa's lap and get their picture taken. As in several years past, Kerry Slaven returned to wear the red suit and the white beard. Carlye Calvin snapped photos. Parents get a complimentary print of their child with Santa, courtesy of the EAC. For each youngster, there's an age-appropriate gift. This year, it was books--well received, according to Paula.

Dee Johnson, wife of NCAR's Paul Johnson, helped the kids paint their own ceramic ornaments. "They love it," says Paula. "Some of them spend hours on it." The children also could turn the other cheek and have their own faces painted by Denise Anderson (daughter of UCAR's Sandra Sundquist). Members of the NCAR cafeteria staff served up treats for the kids, with the help of some contributions from parents. The beverage of choice was red punch, says Paula. "Once they're all running around with red mouths, they look really cute in their pictures." •BH

[All photos by Carlye Calvin.]

"I want that, too!" Victoria and Matthew Bailey (Lori Bailey) share their Christmas list with Santa.

Perhaps Dominic Cristanelli (Cheryl Cristanelli) is content with just meeting Santa. Or could it be Santa shared that he had a secret supply of Tickle Me Elmos?

Face painting was one of several attractions for employees' kids to enjoy. Denise Anderson applies her artistic talents to the cheek of Eduardo Rivas (Teresa Rivas).

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Prepared by Jacque Marshall, jacque@ucar.edu, 303-497-8616