POSTED: DEC 06 2017 10:44PM EST
VIDEO POSTED: DEC 06 2017 06:59PM EST
UPDATED: DEC 06 2017 11:15PM EST
ATLANTA - To celebrate the holidays, more than 500 first graders attended a Toyland themed event at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta Wednesday.
The students came from school districts near and around the airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport hosted the annual event, in an effort to educate the students. The day-long program Hosted by Sprinkles of Clowning 4 You featured a magic show, a puppeteer, clowns, popular costume characters and a surprise visit from Santa himself, who gave the kids gifts to bring home. Airport executives also explained the role Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plays in the transportation industry during the holidays.
By Shane Blatt
Senior Public Relations Manager
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport served a Santa-sized helping of holiday cheer last week to nearly 500 Airport area first-graders at “ATL Presents: Toyland.”
The students, along with their teachers, enjoyed the four-hour program that featured a magic show, puppeteer performance, parade of children’s characters provided by Clowning 4 You and even a surprise visit from a certain red-clad, bearded gentleman offering gifts.
The Dec. 7 event marked the 20th anniversary of the celebration, formerly known as Holidays at Hartsfield-Jackson.
“The purpose of ‘ATL presents: Toyland’ is to provide a tremendous holiday experience for kids to remember for a lifetime,” said organizer Joy Brown,Hartsfield-Jackson’s special events manager. “The look on the children’s faces was priceless. I loved the fact that they are still innocent and young enough to believe in the spirit of the holiday season.”
That spirit was sky-high this year, as the event, having grown in popularity, took place at the Delta Flight Museum.
Interim Chief Financial Officer Greg Richardson offered a warm welcome to students from College Park Elementary, James Jackson Elementary and Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary schools.
“I can’t think of anything more special and exciting than wrapping up the year by spending time with some of the youngest members of the Airport community,” he told the exuberant crowd.
Richardson also encouraged teachers and students to visit the Airport for an ATL Tour, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s busiest and most efficient airport.
Sprinkles the Elf emceed the event, leading students in dance, song and a shake-off “of the sillies.” New this year was the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, a performing arts group that sang a few holiday carols.
The day’s event also featured a story of the Little Red Truck by Elliott Paige, ATL’s manager for Air Service Development, and a fire safety presentation by a representative from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.
Puppeteer Peter Hart mesmerized youngsters as his clown dancers and jingle bell monkeys got into the holiday groove. And magician D’Avante Parks enchanted students with a few tricks and disappearing acts while delivering a powerful message: Believe in yourself.
That message resonated with students at Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary.
“We have continuous conversations with our students about doing their best every day in school,” Principal Shateena Brown said. “Our theme is ‘Race to GREATNESS,’ and the only way you can be great is if you believe in yourself.”
Principal Brown said although her students enjoyed the presentations, performances and Disney characters, she said one person in particular stole the show.
“Their favorite moment was seeing Santa and the gifts,” she said. “The highlight for me as a principal was to see the smiles and hear the laughter of my students.”
What’s in store for next year’s “ATL Presents: Toyland”?
Brown, the organizer, said she may tinker with the lineup and add a few surprises.
“Of course, I never like to tell all my secrets,” she said. “I like to keep the wow factor going.”
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