The 2-year-old didn’t hesitate when Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas.
“A skinny vanilla latte,” Alaina Bowman said. She also told him she wants a train and a Christmas tree, perhaps listing random objects among the decorations at Santa’s Workshop on Saturday in downtown Casper.
Then her little brother, Derek, 1, joined her on Santa’s lap, just long enough for a photo.
That photo captured him sliding off Santa’s knee, shirt up over his middle, just before he headed for the photographer and the lighting equipment cords he’d been eyeing. Alaina, on Santa’s other knee, smiled slightly while holding the candy cane he gave her.
Their parents, Ashley and Matt Bowman, laughed at the photo — a classic, they agreed.
The family braved subzero temperatures to see Santa, and were among the first visitors there. Alaina ran back to chat with Santa a second time, then stamped and colored a Christmas card while munching her candy cane.
More families trickled in throughout the morning to Santa’s Workshop, an event organized by the Downtown Development Authority and the Downtown Casper Business Association.
“It gets people downtown to see what downtown has to offer and it’s a free visit with Santa,” DDA administrative assistant Jackie Schulte said.
Also partnering for the event were sponsoring businesses, including Wyoming Camera Outfitters, Sierra West, which provided the decorations, and First Interstate Bank, Schulte said. Visitors also could donate to Toys for Tots and Make-A-Wish Foundation and buy treats from the Kelly Walsh High School honor society.
Some toddlers chatted, a few cried and some parents gathered around the red-suited man with the long, curling beard. John Christensen has been a Santa for more than 20 years, mostly for nonprofit events. Legos and trains were popular wishes as usual, and drones are this year’s new hot item, he said. He gave each child a candy cane, and one girl gave him a treat of pretzels she’d brought in from the car.
Grady Barsness, 3, grinned wide on Santa’s lap while his brother, Brooks, 1, scrunched his face in tears on the other knee. The photographer captured the moment in a quick snap.
“He didn’t know what was going on,” Grady repeated after his mother. Their parents, Steph and Derek Barsness, planned to take a picture of the photo to send to family and put the original in a scrapbook.
Grady asked for a dump truck, a loader and a blue Tyrannosaurus rex.
The boy looked back just before the family opened the door to step once again into the frosty day. He raised a hand to wave and said, “Bye, Santa!”