Hammond’s newest attraction threw open its doors, welcoming parents and children from around the area for a special opportunity: the chance to meet face-to-face with a special someone who is very much in demand this time of year, the man in the red suit himself, Santa Claus!
The Hammond Sportsplex, Hammond’s $17 million, 135,000 square foot sports and community center opened just a few months ago and already has dozens of events on its calendar, including basketball, volleyball, and indoor soccer programs.
“We wanted to do something for the community,” said Mark Heintz, Administrator at City of Hammond Parks and Recreation. “Although the weather this year didn’t allow for a parade, we’re happy to have Santa here to meet with all the children inside, where everyone can stay safe,warm, and dry.”
“This is a really exciting time of year for us, and we’re very happy to have people come here, support our city, and be part of our community here in Hammond. Having Santa here today gives people the chance to come here, check out the Sportsplex, and see see Santa at the same time,” Heintz said.
Dozens of children lined up to visit the jolly old elf, sit on his lap, and share their Christmas wishes.
Michelle Garcia of Hammond stopped by with her husband and children, as they were all eager to visit with the man of the season.
“It’s awesome! We didn’t expect it to be this big!” said Garcia, as she looked around at everything that the Sportsplex has to offer. “There’s a whole lot going on in here.”
Garcia said that her children, Melania, 16, Miranda, 4, and their cousin Brandon, 6, were looking forward to their time with Santa.
While Santa visited with one wide-eyed child after another, young basketball players visiting from as far away as Elmhurst, Illinois for a One-Day Shootout tournament could not help themselves from stopping by to sneak a peek at Santa and talk about their wishes for the season.
Santa even took a break to hit the courts and try his (gloved) hand at shooting a few baskets, while being guarded by some of the players there for the tournament.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Santa said. “Hopefully, we’ll get lots of families here today, bringing lots of children here to visit.”
One by one, each Christmas wish was carefully noted as parents smiled and snapped photos of their little ones.
But have you ever wondered what would Santa like for Christmas?
“He’s already got everything he needs,” said Mrs. Claus, pointing to herself with a laugh.
For more information about the Hammond Sportsplex and Community Center, check out their website at www.hammondsportsplex.com.