Paige Reinhardt has been bringing her children to visit Santa Claus at Sterling Elementary School for 13 years. This year, there was no Santa.
"I’m raising my kids traditionally," she said. "I’m a little disturbed."
Principal Michele Freeman said organizers decided to discontinue having "Breakfast with Santa" in favor of the "Winter Festival" to draw more families.
"We focused on winter instead of Santa so we could embrace more of our community," she said. "We are a very diverse community."
"IT’S HARD TO get used to the politically correctness," said Reinhardt, mother of four.
Freeman said the annual event was different, "but the spirit is the same."
"It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a nice way to bring families together," she said.
Sheryl Ligon, president of the Parents Teachers Association, said parents were more upset about the breakfast than Santa Claus.
"Our biggest change that seems to have caused the most controversy was the change in the breakfast," she said. Ligon said the PTA replaced eggs and bacon with pastries, donuts and fresh fruit.
Steve Finnegan said the festival was "great fun" for his family this year. "The kids love it and it’s fun for us watching them run around," he said.
Margot Lopez brought her daughters Amarilys, 7, and Bella, 1. It was their first visit to the annual event.
Children sat at long tables making crafts. Amarilys created a snowman tree ornament. She said she wanted a toy that dances and changes colors for Christmas.
Ligon said Sterling Elementary had something no one else had. "Santa’s everywhere, but nobody has a frosty but us," she said.
Keith Matias, an English as a Second Language teacher, dressed up as Frosty the Snowman so families could get their picture taken with him. "Frosty has no religious connotation, does he? I don’t want to get anyone in trouble," he said, smiling.
If people wonder why he would dress up as a snowman, the answer is simple. "I love the kids here and I wanted to do something good for them," he said. "I love the holidays too. I would say "Christmas," but for the religious connotation."
Then, he said it, twice. "I love Christmas. I live for Christmas."