Breakfast With Santa Returns to Clackamas County Fairgrounds

A late evening at Light Up the Night did not stop the guest of honor from making it to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds and Event Center the following morning to celebrate the return of the Breakfast with Santa.

The beloved annual event by the fairgrounds, Clackamas County 4-H Association and Oregon State University Extension, Canby Police, Canby Fire and other partnering businesses and organizations gives local kids and families a delicious breakfast and some one-on-one time with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

“It was started by Canby firefighters more than 20 years ago, for kids in the community who needed something special for Christmas,” explained Fairgrounds Event Coordinator Ruth Gallaway.

Photos by Tyler Francke.
Photos by Tyler Francke.

The early honorees were children and families who had lost their homes or even family members due to fire or other tragedies. But the guest list continued to grow over the years, and the event quickly outgrew the fire district headquarters.

Similar to Shop with a Cop, organizers now work with local school officials and counselors to identify around 60 families in the Canby area needing a pick-me-up for the holiday season. True to the event’s roots, Canby firefighters can also hand out invites should the need arise.

Breakfast with Santa moved to the fairgrounds about 15 years ago, where it found a permanent home. The event made a triumphant return to the fairgrounds’ 4-H Hall Saturday morning after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19.

Canby Fire District Chief Jim Davis whips up scrambled eggs at the Breakfast with Santa at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds. Photos by Tyler Francke.
From left, Canby Police Captain Jose Gonzalez, Chief Jorge Tro, Captain Doug Kitzmiller and Sergeant Stephanie Anderson. Photos by Tyler Francke.

“It’s so much fun seeing the kids’ faces light up when Santa comes in on the fire truck,” Gallaway said after the event Saturday. “I was talking to one of the volunteers this morning, and she said that it just doesn’t really seem like the Christmas season until she goes to Breakfast with Santa with her grandson.”

Canby police officers and firefighters are critical to the event’s success, greeting families as they arrive and helping to whip up and serve the mountains of pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages it takes to feed the masses.

Clackamas County Fair and Canby Rodeo Queen Alexis Goughnour, along with 4-H members and volunteers, gave kids the chance to decorate their own Christmas cookies or partake in other festive crafts while they waited for the guest of honor to arrive.

Photos by Tyler Francke.
Photos by Tyler Francke.

Gallaway praised the hard work and support of Canby Police, Fire, 4-H and the other partnering organizations, as well as longtime Fairgrounds Maintenance Supervisor Caroline Erland and her team lead, Jeremy Christensen.

In addition to bringing the event back after the pandemic, this year’s rendition also required a move to a new location at the fairgrounds. Previously, the Breakfast with Santa was held in the Main Pavilion, but that space was in use this year for the Clackamas County Winter Fair and Holiday Market.

She also thanked all of the sponsors who made the event possible, including Canby Kiwanis, Caruso Produce, Club Fit, the Davies Clinic, Hot Rod Dreamworks and others.

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