More than 500 people enjoyed a day of holiday cheer at Infineon Raceway on Saturday at the 7th annual Race to the Holidays Christmas Party.
The raceway hosted more than 225 Sonoma Valley children and their families at the event, which featured caroling with the Sonoma Valley High School choir, refreshments, a car display, balloon animals and a visit from Santa Claus and his Pit Crew.
The event, which has attracted more than 1,600 children since its inception in 2005, culminated with Santa Claus presenting each child with a bag full of toys. Children ranged in age from newborn to 12-years-old.
“It was the most amazing day,” said Ana Ornelas, nine years old, from Sonoma. “My favorite part was taking a picture with Santa and my family, and my toys are cool, too.”
The festive event was held under sunny skies and all of the children left the raceway with new toys and wide smiles. Following the toy distribution, everyone was treated to a free lunch at the Infineon Raceway Café.
“”This is the light in the tunnel at Christmas for a lot of these families,” said Maritza Barajas, the receptionist and client resource assistant at La Luz. “It is very touching. They feel so blessed to have the opportunity to come here and get presents for their children and families.”
All children who attended the party were pre-registered through six Sonoma Valley youth groups, including: FISH; La Luz; Teen Parent Program; Valley of the Moon Boys and Girls Club; Stand By Me Mentoring; and WillMar Center for Bereaved Children.
The raceway received a generous outpouring of support from the community as nearly 700 toys were donated for the party. Some of the drop-off locations included: Sonoma Valley Sun; Gundlach-Bundschu Winery; Schell-Vista Fire Department; Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce; Index Tribune; and the Sonoma Valley Fire Department.
The raceway also received toy donations from AutoTrader.com, United Site Services, Sonoma Blanket Brigade and the Sonoma Valley Mother’s Club, as well as a donation of kettle corn from Mister Pops Kettle Korn.
Photo by Joe Jacobson