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Santa returns to venerable throne on SE 82nd Avenue

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Santas Throne Room is a good place for very young children to have their first meeting with the jolly old man of Christmas. As he did back in the 1960s, when Eastport Plaza was about the only shopping center around, Santa Claus returns there each year to greet families in December.

“I’m so happy that Santa is here again this year,” said Eastport Plaza Shopping Center General Manager Dianne Gill, as the final decorations were being put in place.

“Like last year, Santa here has a temporary home away from his North Pole home, dedicated for his use, called ‘Santa’s Place’,” Gill said.

The kindly and soft-spoken Mr. Claus whom guests will meet has real flowing white hair and a real beard, and is dressed in his Holiday finest.

Santa’s Place is ideal for very young children for their first meeting with the jolly old fellow, Gill observed, because his “throne room” is fancifully-decorated yet quiet, and it’s away from the Holiday hustle and bustle. Santa’s Throne, crafted in 1960, still sparkles like new.

“Some of guests say they are glad that their children, or grandchildren, are able enjoy the very same experience they remember, of sitting on Santa’s lap here,” Gill said.

And, there’s no commercial photographer at Santa’s Place, forcing families to sign up for expensive photo packages to be able to sit on Santa’s lap. “Here, we encourage families to bring their cameras or use their cell phones to take their own pictures – for free.”

Additionally, guests find games, toys, and crafts at the location.

While all of the activities are free, it is a charitable event as well, Gill reminded. “We think Christmas should be about giving,” says Manager Dianne Gill. “That’s why we established ‘Santa’s Place’ here.

“We’re again delighted to bring a free visit with Santa to our community,” Gill said. “At the same time, we hope our guests will help people in need by bringing new and unwrapped toys, new coats or new blankets, boxed or canned food – or cash donations for one or more of the charities represented at Santa’s Place.”

Guests may choose to contribute to:

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  • Salvation Army Angel Tree Gifts

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  • Trillium Family Services Gift Tag

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  • Sunshine Division Food Barrel

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  • Toy-N-Joy Makers

    "The best part for me," Gill concludes, "is seeing the fun that adults have when they visit, and the wonder and amazement in the little ones' eyes."

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    Santa’s Place at Eastport Plaza

    4000 S.E. 82nd Avenue

    Open through December 24

    Hours: Days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; evenings from 4 until 8 pm

    Closed Sundays

    Kids must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

    Information: Call 503/771-3817, or visit www.eastportplaza.com