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Reindeer Festival kicks off at Sam Bridge

November 26, 2017

GREENWICH — Santa showed up not on a sleigh but in a Mercedes.

“Only in Greenwich,” remarked an observer.

Regardless of transportation method, St. Nick was greeted by a cheering crowd of kids and those still young at heart as he arrived to cut the ribbon for the annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival and Santa’s Village at Sam Bridge Nursery and Greenhouses Friday.

Santa and his three reindeer will be at the nursery until Dec. 23.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Tamara Ketler, owner of TMK Sports and Entertainment, producer of the festival, which also includes children’s rides. “This is about creating a wonderful event for families to enjoy and to create memories during the holiday season. We want to showcase Greenwich and support local businesses.”

Santa was accompanied, as always, by Christine Georgopulo, owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Greenwich Avenue.

“This year I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend but I just said, ‘Ummmm no, I have to drive Santa!’ Georgopulo said. “I love seeing everybody’s reaction. It is such great fun and I love getting into the holiday spirit.”

Georgopulo was not alone with Santa on Friday as they were accompanied by Lou Liodori, general manager of Mercedes Benz of Greenwich, which has been a part of the Reindeer Festival since its beginning nine years ago.

“It’s a great event and it’s perfect for Greenwich,” Liodori said.

The ribbon was cut shortly after noon by a group that included Selectman Drew Marzullo and his son. And the line quickly formed for pictures with Santa.

Reagan Roitsch, 5, was there with her parents Eric and Jane and eager to meet with Santa to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. Reagan was quite taken with the whole atmosphere, including a large Santa balloon.

“The environment is incredible,” Jane Roitsch said. “It starts the season off right.”

Hugh and Heather Boyle, from Darien, were there for the first time with their children, 3-year-old Lilly and 18 months-old Teddy.

“It seemed really fun,” Heather Boyle said. “My friend told me about it and we never even knew about it. We heard it was a great time for kids and a great way to kick off the holiday season.”

Port Chester residents Bill Krzeminski, his wife Crystal and daughter Jennie, 3, were back after enjoying the event last year.

“We loved the reindeer and the rides and Santa,” Krzeminski said. “We had a great time and our extended family is meeting us here.”

The three reindeer arrived soon after Santa did. They will occupy an outdoor pen throughout the festival.

Inside the nursery, a Giving Tree has been set up to help Kids in Crisis. In addition, during the Dec. 2 and 3 Holiday Stroll downtown, the nursery will donate $5 from every purchase of a wreathe costing $50 or more to the non-profit. Ketler said proceeds from the photos with Santa taken at Sam Bridge that weekend will also go to KIC.

“This is such a community oriented event,” said Maggie Bridge, the nursery’s manager of sales and marketing. “We love being able to help Kids in Crisis and hopefully we will be able to raise a lot of money for them through the Giving Tree.”

This is the second year the Reindeer Festival has been at Sam Bridge, after spending its first years at McArdle’s in downtown Greenwich.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com