Santa Claus got an early jump on the Holiday Season last week, giving out toys to nearly 40 kids at the Culver City Elks Lodge on Saturday and sending his helpers out on Harley-Davidson motorcycles to collect more gifts from across the Westside on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
"Ho, ho, ho" Santa bellowed as he traipsed through the Elks' Lodge on Washington Place, passing out candy canes and presents to the youngsters whose own bellies shook like bowls full of jelly after a sumptuous barbeque sponsored by the Elks.
The intermittent rain on Saturday didn't dampen any spirits for the children or adults who turned out for the free event, which also included games and a face-painting booth.
"This is splendid weather," said Phlange Welder, a gold-miner from Alaska who has been visiting family members in Culver City. "But then, it's 30 degrees and snowing in Juneau."
"The heat today," joked Welder, "is really quite oppressive."
St. Nick apparently kicked it into "high-gear" on Sunday, jumping on a motorcycle to join his friends for the annual "Chicano Claus Gift Run." The yearly event is sponsored by a local group of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, the Eagles and the local Teamster Horsemen Motorcycle Association.
Dozens of riders roared out of The Eagles' parking lot about noon, making stops at such popular spots as The Tattle Tale in Culver City and Lost & Found in Mar Vista to collect toys. To ride in the event, the bikers paid $10 each and also donated a present.
The motorcycle run marked the start of a busy week for Santa in Culver City. He will be touring neighborhood streets with the local Police Department through Sunday, Dec. 15, before visiting City Hall the following night and then leaving on his sleigh for the North Pole to make his final preparations for Christmas Eve.