One-horse wagon brings Santa to Voluntown

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Voluntown - posted Tue., Dec. 13, 2011
Santa waves from a wagon driven by Barb Allard and Flo Harman. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Santa waves from a wagon driven by Barb Allard and Flo Harman. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The dearth of snow didn’t keep Santa from making his annual stop at the Voluntown Post Office this year. But instead of a one-horse open sleigh, he arrived via one-horse open wagon.

A crowd of local kids and their parents were on hand to greet the jolly old elf as he pulled into Church Street, aboard a wagon driven by Barb Allard and Flo Harman and pulled by Harman’s Shire horse, Ernie. And for the first few minutes, it appeared that Santa had been upstaged by his equine companion.

Children clustered around the wagon, eager for a chance to stroke Ernie’s nose and ask questions of his handler, Bub Harman. The horse took all the attention in stride, and finally the wagon pulled away, leaving the man in red to take his seat at the post office and listen to the children’s wish lists.

Santa asked the assembled children what they thought of the unseasonable weather. “No snow!” he proclaimed in a booming voice. “I’m going to call Mrs. Claus and we’re going to turn on the snow.”

Flo Harman, who serves as Voluntown’s animal control officer, said that Santa’s appearance at the post office has been a Voluntown tradition for at least a dozen years. The initial idea, she said, was Allard’s. “We just wanted Santa Claus to come see the kids,” said Harman. The use of the horse and wagon, along with the cookies and other goodies served to the visiting children, are all donated, she added.

Santa himself was able to appear thanks to the efforts of Tom Holowaty of Griswold, who clearly enjoyed his role. Santa picked up toddlers and obligingly posed for parents’ cameras, urging the children, “Smile and say, ‘Chocolate chip cookies!’” He chatted companionably with older kids and gently comforted the infants brought to meet him for the first time.

The items on the kids’ wish lists ran the gamut from the simple to the sophisticated. Chris, 6, said he asked Santa for a DS game. “That’s what I really want for Christmas,” he said.

Annahlee, 7, probably made the most unusual wish of the day. “It’s for my favorite chicken. His name is Hawkie because he looks like a hawk.” she said. She said she wanted Santa to bring Hawkie a chicken diaper, “so I can bring him into the house.”

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