Making the holidays bright and fun

HILLMAN — On Dec. 2, over 100 children gathered at Brush Creek Mill for the 2017 Christmas Party with Santa to kick off the Christmas season in Hillman. Children were able to see Santa Claus, get a book, play bingo, do arts and crafts, and decorate a Christmas cookie while at the party.

“It went very well,” Jim Dunn, director of operations at Brush Creek Mill, said. “We had a really good turnout and the good weather helped a lot.”

Dunn said the volunteers were outstanding and made everything go smoothly throughout the party.

“This event is like clockwork for us,” he said.

Posen residents Matthew and Helana Burns came and saw Santa and told him what they want for Christmas. Helana, 4, asked Santa for three horses.

“I asked Santa for a tablet so I don’t have to fight my cousins for their tablet when I go to their house,” Matthew, 7, said.

Each child got a book when they arrived at the party. Matthew said he got Flat Stanley while Helana got the book “Snow Rabbit Spring Rabbit.”

Alpena residents Zachary and Clorissa Hoeppner were visiting their grandma in Hillman and their favorite part of the party was seeing Santa. Zachary, 9, asked for a red remote control car while Clorissa, 6, asked for a doll.

“I also liked doing all the different activities,” Zachary said.

Clorissa put lots of sprinkles on her Christmas cookie while Zachary didn’t have any sprinkles on his.

Leon Gilbert played Santa Claus said he enjoyed seeing all the children.

“I love and enjoy kids,” he said. “I volunteer my time to do this because I love and enjoy it.”

Dunn said Gilbert was a star and was really good with the kids, and the kids loved him.

This was the third year Gilbert was Santa for the party and said he believed all the kids when they told him they have been good this year.

“All of them behaved and no one cried so it was a success,” he said. “I look forward to doing this every year.”

Atlanta resident Hannah Offerman, who was Little Miss Elk Fest this year, was at the party and enjoyed all the activities.

“My favorite part was all the Christmas decorations and the crafts,” Offerman, 9, said. “I also got to see Santa and I asked him for a 32-inch TV.”

Offerman’s favorite part of the Christmas season is the giving that everyone gets to do.

“I love waking up on Christmas morning and seeing all the presents under the tree,” she said.

Dunn said it was really nice that Offerman showed up to the Christmas party.

“It was a surprise to everyone and we are happy that she came,” he said.

Dunn said the event was successful and he was impressed the first child didn’t cry until after the first hour when they were leaving the party.

“If no child cries, that means we’re doing it right,” he said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.