Beyond Bringing Joy, Children’s Holiday Awakens Kids’ Curiosity

Santa Clause illustration.
COURTESY OF ALFREDO SARMIENTO AND JOHN ANGEL

The College’s annual Children’s Holiday event at North Campus is meant to entertain, enchant and educate.

North Campus New Student Center director Jessica Catambay-Lopez remembers a touching moment involving a six-year-old boy at the event three years ago who had spent all day learning through hands-on physical science demonstrations by the Science Complex.

“I’m gonna be a scientist just like you,” the boy whispered to a man dressed as Ironman kneeling to pose for a photo with the boy.

It is those kind of moments that motivate Catambay-Lopez to make the fair impactful this year too.

“It was the best thing ever,” Catambay-Lopez said. “That kind of really embraced the entire spirit of Children’s Holiday….They’re from a very young age learning that education is fun.”

More than 4,000 families are expected to attend the day-long celebration, now in its eleventh edition, on Saturday, Dec. 10. at North Campus, 11380 N.W. 27th Ave.

The free event not only aims to promote the programs offered at the College but also provides an opportunity for all children to celebrate the festivities, according to the assistant director of campus administration and co-chair of the Children’s Holiday committee, Jesenia Patino.

“We reach out to schools throughout Miami-Dade County, so that every student at a public school has an invitation to come” said Catambay-Lopez. “Our goal every year is to make it bigger and better.”

To kick-off the event at 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Department of Postal Service will unveil the 2016 nativity stamp, depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, to mark the opening of the day-long family event. Then, Santa Claus will land on campus in a helicopter and the parade will begin.

Every year children feel the thrill of sliding down a 12-foot-tall snow mountain and get their photos taken with Santa and his wife at the snow village. Among the novelties this season is the Character’s Pavilion, where families can line up to meet Spiderman and the Minions as well as other popular characters.

An all-time favorite for attendees is the Youth and Agriculture Pavilion where children learn about food safety and sustainable farming by growing their own edible plants. The petting zoo and the animal shows are top picks for the guests as well.

A special 40-by-40-foot tent will showcase the county’s diversity. In Holidays Around the World children are exposed to festivities such as the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the African-American Kwanzaa and Hindu festival of Diwali.

The Confucius Institute sponsors its very own pavilion where kids can get their names written in Chinese by volunteers in colorful costumes representative of the culture.

Three stages on campus will host an extensive list of performers that range from Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ bands to dance groups like the Hip Hop Kidz. Also, at Candyland families will be able to purchase various selections of meals on food trucks.

Volunteers can sign up through the North Campus website, http://mdc.edu/north/childrensholiday/

Students can also visit the Student Life Department to help by dressing up as elves and join the Smile Squad, which delivers balloons and other goodies to the children at the event.  

Multiple toy drives take place at the College during the holiday season. Families attending the fair are encouraged to donate an unwrapped toy. Afterwards, the Student Life Department sorts them by age and gender and allocates them to areas that will benefit from the donations.

“Children’s holiday is a celebration hosted to bring the community together to celebrate in such a joyous time,” said North Campus Student Government Association President Alexander Delgado. “It’s meant for everyone, regardless of age, to enjoy themselves, as we host a vast array of activities for the entire family to enjoy. “

Maria Vizcaino

Maria Elena Vizcaino, 20, is a mass communications/journalism major at MDC-West. Vizcaino, who graduated from Ronald W. Reagan Doral Senior High School in 2015, will serve as a briefing editor for The Reporter during the 2016 summer semester. She aspires to become an investigative print journalist.

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