Popular free seasonal event converts to a drive-through winter wonderland
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry has announced the return of Santa Land to Chestnut Ridge Park this year, bringing the popular family fun event back after a year’s hiatus in 2020.
A drive-thru adventure awaits this year, as visitors to Santa Land never have to leave their cars, instead taking a trip through the park with stops at sites for giveaways and demonstrations. The Erie County Parks Department is partnering with the Orchard Park Recreation Department again this year to present this free event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. Gates will close at 3:30 p.m. for the last visitors to make their way through the park.
“We are pleased to host Santa Land again this year at Chestnut Ridge Park and have taken steps to keep visitors and staff safe as they enjoy this holiday time,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “We have a drive-thru adventure ahead that kids and families will enjoy to get in the spirit of the season without ever leaving their cars. I want to thank our Parks Department and their partners for their planning and work in bringing back this great event this year.”
Poloncarz was joined Monday at the Chestnut Ridge Park casino by Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel, Erie County Legislator John Mills, Assistant Recreation Director of the Orchard Park Recreation Department Kristin Welch, and Santa Claus to announce the return of Santa Land.
Visitors will enter the park through the Newton Road entrance and proceed on a 1.4-mile course through the park filled with surprises and fun. Adventure stops and sites will include Christmas Tree Forest, the Christmas Blow-Up Display, and Santa’s Village, where kids can drop off a letter to Santa. Demonstrations by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Let’s Goat Buffalo! and Hillcrest Fire Co. will be featured, and giveaways (while supplies last) will include adventure bags and branded wood discs from Erie County Forestry.
Schinzel said, “Families look forward to Santa Land, and this year will be another special time to make some Christmas memories. We have planned a fun drive-thru event that everyone will enjoy, so we just want to remind visitors that the gates will close at 3:30 in order to get everyone through.”
Santa Land is also a designated drop-off site for the Toys for Tots campaign, and participants are encouraged to drop off a new, unwrapped toy to brighten a child’s holiday.
For more information on the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.