By DOTTY NIST
For the ninth year, the South Walton Elf Ride helped bring the spirit of giving to the Christmas season.
As has been the local tradition, on Dec. 4 elves, either walking or on bicycles decorated for the holidays, met for a 1 1/2-mile trek to the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) WaterColor station, carrying gifts to be placed under a SWFD Angel Tree.
The ride route began on the west end of Seaside at the Van Ness Butler Regional Beach Access and wound through the WaterColor subdivision, with riders then crossing CR-30A to the WaterColor Crossings shopping center and the fire station just to the north.
Gifts furnished by the elves go to area children who might otherwise find little or nothing under their Christmas tree.
Due to a rain forecast for the afternoon of the Elf Ride, riders were not as numerous as usual, and some elves delivered their gifts directly to the fire station rather than riding. Still, an estimated 75-80 elves participated in this year’s event.
At the fire station, participants were treated to pizza provided by Bruno’s Pizza and other refreshments. Santa Claus was on hand for pictures and to hear children’s Christmas wishes. Tours of the station and fire engines and face painting were available.
“Grand Elf” Luke Thompson thanked everyone for attending. Thompson created the annual event in 2008 as a 10-year-old south Walton County resident and continues in the role of lead organizer for the Elf Ride. He is now a student at the University of West Florida and is studying telecommunications.
SWFD Chief Administrator Rick Talbert, a leader for the ride, conveyed his thanks as well, with many SWFD personnel present and participating in the event.
Several awards were presented, with Parker Howard of Miramar Beach recognized for “Best Costume.” Izabella Lund was presented with the “Youngest Elf” medal. The “Best of Show” honor went to a family group, Christine, Gage, Izabella and Ethen Lund.
The SWFD Angel Tree program is conducted in association with the Walton County Caring and Sharing charitable organization. The program benefits several hundred Walton County children during the holiday season.
Information on the program and how to assist is available by calling the SWFD at (850) 267-1298, emailing SWFD Administrative Assistant Robbie Lund at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting the SWFD web site www.swfd.org.
By DOTTY NIST