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Author: Travis Silvas

Skateboarding Mrs. Claus comes to life in new book

It’s no big secret how Santa Claus spends his time. But, have you ever wondered what Mrs. Claus does all year? Charlotte native, Ally Grabel, has a theory — she skateboards. In fact, Grabel portrays the skateboarding Mrs. Claus throughout the year at various events, including this past year at Common Ground Festival in Lansing. Her portrayal has become such an attraction that Grabel figured it was time to give Mrs. Claus a more prominent role during the holidays, releasing the book Mrs. Claus Skateboards at the Modern Skate Park. The children’s book showcases how Mrs. Claus uses skateboarding to teach all of her holiday friends about playing together. The idea to dress up as Mrs. Claus came about during a fundraiser when she thought it would be fun to dress up and play Christmas music on her guitar while dropping on a half-pipe. She found it got a decent response from the crowd. However, she said she never felt comfortable asking for donations just to watch her skate. So, she came up with idea to create a coloring book depicting Mrs. Claus on her skateboard. The idea evolved from a simple coloring book to a full story for children. “The book teaches children that everyone can have fun together,” Grabel said. She will be at Modern Skate Park in Royal Oak this Saturday, Dec. 21 from 1 to...

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Volunteers relish chance to bring Santa to life

SourceURL:file:///Volumes/Data/SERVER/Editorial/12.21.13/Charlotte/Christmas%20Kiddies%20Santas.doc Some wait a long time for the opportunity. Most never give it up when they get the chance. That’s how 15-year Charlotte volunteer firefighter Kris Hulsebos sees it anyway. When he joined the Charlotte Fire Department 15 years ago there were several volunteers in front of him with a stranglehold on the Santa Claus position — a role he has served in for the last five years as part of the Christmas Kiddies program. Hulsebos waited 10 years before a spot opened. “I’m not giving that spot up until I’m officially retired,” Hulsebos said. “When I started there were guys that had been Santa for 20 or 25 years. Some of them had a really tough time giving it up.” Hulsebos said he understands why. For those who fit the mold, playing the role of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve is an extremely rewarding experience. “It’s been awesome,” said Jeff Wertz, who has been a Christmas Kiddies Santa for nearly five years. “It’s been eye opening, but to see the kids’ faces when they see Santa walking up to the house … it’s amazing.” The department’s volunteers have kept this nearly 100-year tradition alive in Charlotte, giving up Christmas Eve with their families in order to spread joy throughout the Charlotte area. This year, volunteers will head out Christmas Eve to make stops at nearly 500 homes to...

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New location working out nicely for SIREN/Eaton Shelter

Thomas Eveland took a moment Tuesday, Dec. 10 to reflect on the humble beginnings of SIREN/Eaton Shelter. He was asked 24 years ago by then director, Nancy Oliver to chair an advisory board for the county’s new shelter. The decision to take her up on that offer is one he looked back on with pride as he welcomed community members to tour SIREN/Eaton Shelter’s new facility during a special open house Tuesday night. “The Shelter and this SIREN group have done wonderful things for the community,” Eveland said. “I couldn’t have imagined where we’d end up when we started...

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Eagle Scout project fills a need, honors a legacy

Eldred Toutant left an indelible mark on Charlotte as a community leader. It’s no surprise his grandson, Austin Smith wanted, in many ways, to follow in his footsteps. “He’s my hero,” Smith said. “He was always around while I was growing up. He was like a second father figure.” It was Smith’s admiration for his grandfather that led him on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout, something Toutant also achieved in his lifetime. Smith moved one step closer to that goal recently, finishing an Eagle Scout project that has found a permanent home on the Courthouse Square lawn....

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Charlotte Fire Department makes preparations for final Christmas Kiddies push

Charlotte fireman Chris Sloan walked around the station Wednesday, Dec. 11 knowing what would take shape in just a couple days. A few toys were placed on tables, taking up nearly half the space at the downtown Charlotte Fire Station … the calm before the storm. Sloan said the volunteers had yet to go out and purchase the rest of the toys needed to hand out to more than 500 Charlotte area children on Christmas Eve. The Charlotte Fire Department’s Christmas Kiddies program is one of the oldest traditions still going in the Charlotte community. All members of the Charlotte Fire Department take part in the program each year, sacrificing part of their Christmas Eve to spread a little joy to families in the area that could use a little holiday cheer. “They all get a little nervous this time of year,” said Charlotte Fire Chief Kevin Fullerton about the amount of work that takes place in a few short weeks. “But, one way or another, it always gets done.” The downtown station will soon be overflowing with toys and other gifts that will need to be wrapped and boxed in preparation for nearly 200 stops that have to be made on Christmas Eve. Delivery is split up through six different routes, each complete with Santa Claus, an honor the volunteer firefighters take very seriously. Of course it takes...

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