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Santa Pays a Visit to Gladys Park

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, December 22, 2008, at 10:07AM
Santa Claus Ed Fuentes

Merian Ventura, 7, with Santa Claus in Gladys Park for a City of L.A. Rec and Park toy giveaway.

A svelte Santa paid a visit to Gladys Park on Friday, landing for a Department of Recreation & Parks toy giveaway. "I have 360 days a year to work out," the smilin' Santa told blogdowntown.

Attendance at the event was light, but those on-hand didn't seem to care. They got the chance to visit Santa, see some small animals up close and bang on trash cans with an urban percussion group. All fit the park’s mission of giving kids who live in and near Skid Row a little bit of sanctuary.

That mission is part of a broader park program that has Councilmember Jose Huizar, LAPD, Recreation and Parks and Para Los Ninos working to keep the park safe for children. The holiday toy giveaway was headed by Marjorie Dall, Recreation and Parks Event Coordinator, and Officer Stephen Nichols, Senior Lead Officer of LAPD Central Division.

Soon, the bigger kids will be getting a present to be un-wrapped. A new basketball court is nearing completion, and will be the home of Skid Row’s 3 on 3 league.

Visiting the park on league days, one can see kids playing nearby as the games go on. Sometimes they can be seen waiting for hot dogs to be grilled or just watching the players because they know someone on a team.

Those are the days when Gladys Park is more than sanctuary: it’s a toy that lasts all year.


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