Rabiner Treatment Center took the magic of Christmas literally this year.
For their annual Christmas party, the students and staff at the residential treatment facility decorated the gym with a magic show theme with top hats, cards for card tricks, white rabbits, magic wands and "hocus pocus" among the red and green holiday decorations.
It's an annual tradition and a great time for families, said Rabiner Chief Executive Officer Brad Klug.
Magician Larry Dunbar seems to poke a sword straight through the neck of Andrew Mammen, seventh grade, at the Rabiner Treatment Center Christmas party. Dunbar did magic for the “Hocus Pocus” themed party with his assistant Julie Thompson.
"One of the neatest parts is the kids' parents and families get to come in from out of town and share in the holiday," Klug said. "For those kids that don't have families coming in, our staff volunteer to be the kids' sponsors. That way if you have one kid with family there, the next kid doesn't feel like they don't have anybody there to support them."
The Rabiner choir sang to entertain the audience, and Santa made a special appearance with presents for the boys. Magician Larry Dunbar also put on a show.
The elaborate decorations are put up by the kids and staff, said Randy Poutre, director of environmental services.
"The kids make all the stockings, bells, and pictures on the wall," Poutre said. "It takes about a week to set it up."
In the 15 years he's worked there, the party has grown quite a bit, he said, estimating that 150 to 160 people came to Sunday's event in spite of the weather.
This season, the boys get into the spirit of giving.
The clients receive "Star bucks" as a reward for being good, Poutre said, and can use those bucks to buy items like snacks and candy. Instead of spending on themselves, around Christmas some boys choose to donate to Bikes for Tykes instead.
"Last year we said if the kids would be willing to donate Star bucks, Rabiner would match it," he said. "This year we've had $306 donated by the boys."
Those boys will deliver the bikes they helped pay for today, he said.
"A big part of our program is teaching kids how important it is to give to others," Klug said. "I think this is the second year we've done this, but we've had a couple other things. We have a bunch of our boys who volunteer for Operation Christmas, and they also do some things with local churches; help set up and tear down for special events. A couple years ago we raised over $200 for the Santa Cops program."
It's a special time for the boys, and for the staff too, he said.
"For a lot of (the staff), this is a special part of their Christmas too."
Some of the staff brought their own kids, which adds to it.
"Some of these kids come from some pretty tough situations, but you see the joy on their face, and they know somebody's thinking about them and caring about them, especially during this time of the year," he added. "There's probably a lot of them that this might be one of their first big Christmas parties they've ever gone to in their lives."