Christmas in July ‘presents’ kids with midsummer fun

A snowstorm hit Sebastian’s Riverview Park last Saturday afternoon and meteorologists speculated that the snow on the ground was caused by the wake of the jet ski used by Saint Nicholas as he zoomed into town for the fourth annual Christmas in July event to support Shop with a Cop.
With the help of local law enforcement and a little Christmas magic, the community came together to support the collaborative effort, which provides families in need with a boost during the holidays. Proceeds from the summertime extravaganza enable officers to take roughly 150 children on a December shopping spree at Walmart to search for presents to put under the tree. Each child receives a $100 gift card and is escorted by their own personal shopper who assists them with their selections. Even more importantly, the relationships forged during the shopping excursion enable children to see members of law enforcement in a whole new light.
“The community always comes together for us when it comes to helping out the children and taking care of each other,” said Ashley Penn, Sebastian Police Department school resource officer.
On Saturday, families enjoyed an afternoon of games, a scavenger hunt, dancing and watching a demo by the Sebastian Police Department’s K-9 Unit. To keep them frosty cool, children frolicked in the trucked-in snow, raced to put on frozen T-shirts and slurped Italian ices.
Santa, clad in Bermuda shorts and a tropical shirt, chatted with good little girls and boys.
Riley Carter, a 5-year-old sporting fairy wings and a painted face, showed off the LEGO alien that Santa had given her – after she had assured him she would be good for the rest of the year. She also told the jolly old fellow that she has her heart set on a mama and baby unicorn for Christmas.
Sebastian Police Chief Michelle Morris kept her cool – literally – by taking one for the team in the dunk tank.  There seemed to be an inordinate number of Sebastian police officers among those in line to try their luck at drenching their boss, with one officer appearing to fund youngsters in their attempts after his failed to hit the target.
“Y’all can dunk me 1,000 times as long as you’re paying,” laughed Morris. “My goal is to make the most money and it’s certainly cooling me off.”
Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Teddy Floyd, as much a part of the event as Santa himself, danced to the music with DJ SHHH-Op and the Sebastian Has Hip Hop dance team, and also threw his fair share of snowballs.
“After a long week with all the stuff that’s been going on in the community, this is a breath of fresh air,” said Floyd. “You can interact with the kids, make money to help the less fortunate and have some fun. This is what it’s all about.”
“This year is the biggest year yet,” shared IRSO Deputy Roberta Barker. “It’s been a great turnout. The people are just wonderful and, of course, it all benefits the kids.”

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