The stockings are stuffed and Santa is ready

Pleasant Valley will host Holiday Happiness at Coppin Chapel

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Helen Gully, of Fort Dodge, works on stuffing a stocking at the optometry office of Terry Moehnke Wednesday night. Volunteers from the Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee packed the gifts in preparation for Holday Happiness - Santa in the Park.

Santa Claus himself will be bringing some Christmas cheer to children who gather at Coppin Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Saturday.

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, who looks an awful lot like Cameron Nelson, of Fort Dodge, is teaming up with the Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee and Fort Dodge Fire Department to hand out stockings stuffed with goodies for children.

The event, called Holiday Happiness — Santa in the Park, will be held at the church at the corner of First Avenue South and Fourth Street.

Santa and his helpers will be on hand from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Nelson said he typically plays Santa once a year for a good cause.

He takes his role quite seriously; he dyes his beard white for the occasion.

“It’s quite the process to get that beard right,” Nelson said.

The hair products he’s used in the past aren’t necessarily meant to be used on the face, but it’s worked out OK, he said.

“That’s why it’s once a year,” Nelson said.

This year, he’s trying out a new product that he hopes will bring the best results.

He chose to help out Pleasant Valley after hearing that Sherry Washington was in need of a volunteer. Washington is president of the Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee.

“Councilman Neven Conrad told Sherry that I do it every year for a good cause, so she got ahold of me and I was very excited,” Nelson said.

For a guy whose license plate reads BEARD1, Nelson’s services have been in high demand.

“I am a big guy with a big beard, so I get asked to play Santa all year,” he said

He’s thrilled to play the part.

“I try to give back as much as I can and if I get to dress up as one of the happiest guys on earth that’s a pretty good way to do it,” Nelson said.

Firefighters from the Fort Dodge Fire Department will be at the event to talk about safety.

Safe use of portable space heaters, importance of carbon monoxide detectors, and use of Christmas trees are some of the topics that will be covered, according Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter.

A fire truck and ambulance will be at the site for children to see up close.

According to Washington, the idea of the event is to spread happiness, especially for those families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season.

“Sometimes the holidays can be a tough time,” Washington said. “We are hoping to reach some of those folks where this will truly help.”

She added, “The holidays are about sharing and spreading the happiness. We have so much to be thankful for, so giving back is the least we can do.”

Any child from the Fort Dodge area is welcome to come and receive a stocking from either Santa or one of his helpers.

Included in the stockings will be hats, gloves, cookies, candy and a toy.

Those items were donated by the Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee.

Washington is happy to help out.

“It’s a blessing how everyone is working together and spreading the holiday cheer,” Washington said. “We are looking forward to helping everyone.”

Seventy-five stockings have been prepared.

“It’s first-come, first-serve,” Washington said. “When we’re out, we’re out.”