Plenty of smiles present at Christmas event

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Leah Mehling, 3, of Santa Claus, right, lists off gifts she is thankful for while her mom, Kacey, helps her write a letter to Santa during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday. The event featured three decorated floors of snacks, crafts, games and balloons. 

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — It was a holly, jolly evening at the OFS Brands headquarters in Huntingburg Wednesday evening.

Throughout the previous weeks, OFS employees had been busy playing Santa’s elves as they decorated their departments for Christmas and planned fun activities for kids they could incorporate into their decor. All the work was in preparation for the company Christmas celebration, with what Directions Committee Chairwoman Tricia Neukam loving calls the Crazy Kids Christmas.

The Directions Committee plans fun events for the company, and heads up the Christmas gathering.

The evening is designed for employees to bring their families to the headquarters for a night filled with Christmas cheer and fun activities. It began as a holiday decorating contest between the departments in the headquarters offices three years ago, but quickly grew to a family event for the whole company. This year was the second time children were let loose amidst the decorations.

It did not disappoint.

As families entered the main floor, employees dressed as Santa’s elves directed them to an area dubbed Santa’s Sugar Shop. There, kids could collect candies and treats provided by OFS employees. Then, it was on to Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen for a buffet of baked goods and hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows and whipped cream. Nearby the Claus’ kitchen, the finance department set up giant plinko games, and a nice list where kids could add their names, if they thought they’d been good this year.

“I like seeing all the kids come through,” said Katie Meyer, who works in the finance department. “And their smiles.”

On the building’s second floor, the North Pole Post Office provided the kids with a place to write letters to Santa that the Directions Committee will deliver to the Santa Claus Post Office in Santa Claus, Indiana, and help Santa’s Elves there answer the letters.

Claire Durcholz, 8, of Ferdinand, right, visits with Mrs. Claus and Santa during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday. The event featured three decorated floors of snacks, crafts, games and balloons.

After dropping their letters in the post box at OFS, the kids could tour the North Pole Post Office to see Santa’s desk where he reads all the letters before placing a child on the naughty or nice list. A pipe system also hung on one wall, showing letters from across the world come into the post office and drop into mail bags.

After stopping at the North Pole Post Office, a trip to the Island of Misfit Toys was in order. There, kids could watch the classic telling of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer that made the island popular, decorate an ornament to take home and take photos with cardboard cutouts of the characters.

As if all of that weren’t enough, an even bigger treat sat in the lower level of the office building — the jolly man himself, Santa Claus!

As Claire Durcholz, 8, of Ferdinand, made her way to the lower level with her father, Mark, she knew exactly what she was going to ask Santa for this year.

“I just really want for my sissy to come home,” Claire said as she sat on Santa’s lap. Claire’s 3-year-old sister, Caroline, has been in Indianapolis at Riley Hospital for Children. Caroline is doing better, Mark said, but she’s unlikely to be home for Christmas.

Santa and Mrs. Claus promised Claire they’d pray for Caroline, then sent the 8-year-old big sis back to the fun upstairs with a candy cane in hand.

Next year, Neukam said, the Directions Committee has plans to make the family Christmas even grander. They’re hoping to host it at OFS Cool Springs in Velpen, and wants to add some of Santa’s live reindeer and sleigh rides.

They’ll be busy in the meantime, though. There’s only four months until Easter, and the Easter bunny always stops by OFS for another family party.

Audrey McAninch, 8, of St. Henry, plays plinko during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday.

 

Adelyn Raber, 6, of Evansville, writes her name on the back of a Christmas tree ornament she decorated during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday.

 

Leah Merter, 4, of St. Anthony, left, follows around her aunt, Misty Merter, while she refills trays with sweets in 'Mrs. Claus' Kitchen' during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday.

 

Aunika Haase, 4, of Ferdinand, drops a letter to Santa in his mailbox during the annual Christmas event at OFS corporate office in Huntingburg on Wednesday.



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