People can safely visit Santa Claus, plus some of his reindeer, Friday at Rudolph’s Rockin’ Christmas Kick-Off.
The Kick-Off will be 4:30 p.m. Friday at United Methodist Children’s Home in Tahlequah. The Children’s Home is part of the United Methodist Circle of Care program.
Admission is free, but only 12 families can visit over a 30-minute period.
Youngsters can bring their letters to Santa and pick up a cookie decorating kit.
Circle of Care CEO Keith Howard said the Kick-Off is a fun way to give back to the Tahlequah community.
“We have the opportunity to utilize our campus bring these reindeer in and have a fun event where people can come and get their pictures taken,” he said. “We know we may not have too many more opportunities to use our campus for such events.”
The campus has been up for sale since 2019 as the program focuses more on foster care.
During the Kick-Off, Santa Claus will be available, though children will not sit on his lap.
“We’re going to have children back six feet to talk to Santa, then we’re going to have standing pictures versus close, intimate pictures,” he said.
The Christmas Kick-Off also gives visitors a chance to learn about the Tahlequah campus, which opened in 1942 as a residential facility for children.
“Over the past six years, we’ve transitioned into being a foster care community,” Howard said. “We have foster parents who choose to live on campus and serve kids who are in DHS custody.”
Three houses on campus serve as foster homes, Howard said.
The campus also offers a transition program for youth aging out of foster care, he said.
“They can come live on campus. We call that our Preparation for Adult Living program,” Howard said. “We serve about 10 young people at a time through that program.”
The home itself is undergoing a transition.
“We know long-term we don’t need a large campus with 200-plus acres and 17 buildings,” he said. “We can do a lot of that work through local foster care in the community.”
Circle of Care has several foster families throughout the Muskogee and Tahlequah area, he said, adding that foster homes are more family-centered.
“We can do our PAL program through finding one or two homes and using them as apartments,” he said.
Howard said selling the property enables Circle of Care to expand its reach “without having to maintain a large campus.”
Statewide, Circle of Care serves 240 children in foster homes; there are 170 foster families, he said.
Circle of Care also operates United Methodist Boys Ranch in Gore, O Be Joyful Farm in Haskell, Frances Willard Ministry Center in Tulsa and Holsinger Home in Enid.
If you go
WHAT: Rudolph’s Rockin’ Christmas Kick-Off.
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: United Methodist Children’s Home, 7 Mathis Park Drive, Tahlequah.