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Families enjoyed taking pictures with Santa at the Smittcamp Alumni House on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (Alejandro Soto/The Collegian)

‘Photos With Santa’ is festive family fun

Fresno State got into the holiday spirit on Saturday at the Fresno State Alumni Association’s ninth annual “Photos With Santa” event.

Although the event has been happening for nine years, it was the first year the Alumni Association partnered with the Fresno Police Department’s “Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life” to put on the event.

Matthew Schulz, director of engagement for the Alumni Association, said every year the event averages around 500 people over the four-hour period it takes place.

“The Fresno PD has done their own Santa event, and they were looking for a new home,” Schulz said. “So they reached out to campus, and they connected with [Associated Students, Inc.], and ASI knew about the ‘Photos With Santa’ event, so they referred the Fresno PD to us.”

“[The Police Department] said they averaged about 1,500 [people] for their event, so we figured, well, hey, that would make our event that much stronger if we’re combining forces, I guess you could say,” Schulz said.

The event began at 10 a.m. at Smittcamp Alumni House and went on until 2 p.m. Photos with Santa and Fresno State mascot TimeOut took place inside the house. Victor E. Bulldog III was also available for photos for $10.

“One of our sponsors of the Victor E. Bulldog program, Plato Pet Treats, they actually support local no-kill shelters,” Schulz said. “So half of the proceeds that people pay for [a photo with] Victor E. Bulldog, half of that actually goes towards no-kill shelters.”

After every photo, kids were given a teddy bear, a piggy bank shaped like a paw print, a sticker and a candy cane from the Fresno Police Department.

Out on the back lawn, Christmas music played as parents and kids did arts and crafts and enjoyed cookies. Kids made snowflakes out of coffee filters, candy canes from red pipe cleaners and white beads, wrote Christmas lists for Santa, and there was also a coloring contest of a drawing of Victor E.

The Kennel Bookstore also was there, selling Fresno State gear and clothing at reduced prices.

Kremen School of Education faculty member Jessica Hannigan said she came to the event to show support and to bring her 1-year-old to see Victor E. and Santa. She said it was her first time attending the event.

“I think this is critical to just bring all the kids together and keep the families off of their phones, off of technology, and be together doing things like this,” Hannigan said.

Fresno State alumna Liz Molina said it was her third or fourth year attending the event with her family. She said each year is a little bit different.

Molina sat at a table with her daughter, Eliana, and said having events like “Photos With Santa” is important for the community.

“This event, in particular, it’s a free event, and some families don’t have the extra resources to go do extra things during the holidays,” Molina said. “They’ve got lots of crafts for the kids to do that are free, and it’s just–”

“It’s fun,” Eliana said. “It’s fun,” Molina agreed.