Santa chats with children during his Saturday appearance at Philomath Community Library. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Taking time out of what is obviously his busiest month of the year, Santa Claus visited Philomath Community Library Saturday morning to meet with local children, listen to their Christmas wishes, pose for keepsake photos and hand out candy canes.

Santa and the Philomath Lions Club go way back — teaming up to bring smiles to the faces of children for decades. In 1959, for example, the local Lions Club was arranging Santa appearances — that year “outside of the theater with treats for all children when the show is over.”

Santa, who enlisted the help of Rick Wells, made his entrance Saturday morning at the library aboard a Philomath Fire & Rescue engine. Children trickled in for two hours from 10 a.m. to noon — some very excited to see him, others getting a little shy and even a few that turned around and quickly exited the room.

In one encounter, a little girl couldn’t bring herself to sit on Santa’s lap and instead clung to her dad who was sitting nearby. Santa tried to at least get a high-five out of her but she shook her head no.

A camera phones come out during a visit to Santa Saturday at Philomath Community Library. Helping Santa with candy canes was Anya Hester, 2023 Philomath Frolic & Rodeo queen. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Those types of reactions from youngsters are not new to Santa — it happens. Besides children, he’s had adults sit on his lap for a fun photo and recently during another appearance, dogs have cozied up to him. Fortunately, unlike some scenes you might find in a holiday movie, Wells said he’s never been on the receiving end of a potty accident.

Also at Saturday morning’s appearance was Anya Hester, the 2023 Philomath Frolic & Rodeo queen. Hester helped Santa by handing out candy canes.

Wells, 64 years old this month, has taken his Santa experiences to new levels in recent years with several appearances in the region. For those who missed him at the library, he’ll be at Out West Farm & Ranch in Philomath from 2-4 p.m. this coming Saturday. Earlier in the day, he’ll be in Corvallis from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Burlap & Lace.

Wells will also don the Santa suit for a couple of appearances in neighboring communities, including in Lyons on Dec. 13 and Dec. 21. Then on Dec. 23, he’ll visit the Department of Human Services in Corvallis from 9-11 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. In between on the same day, he’ll stop at Hendrix Heating from noon-2 p.m.

“They’re all a lot of fun,” Santa said. “You can’t pick one over the other.”

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.