For three hours on Christmas Eve, from 9 a.m. to noon, hundreds of people in need were the recipients of Christmas cheer in and around the K&A Downtown Café at the Center Street Promenade in Anaheim.
Kids got lap time and face time with Santa Claus and walked off with a present.
Families were treated to breakfast and had their faces adorned with painted designs.
Participants decorated Christmas cookies and were entertained by live music.
Officially called the 8th Annual Holiday Brunch, the driving force behind the festivities are Kathy and Art Cervantes, owners of the K&A Downtown Café and Cervantes Mexican Food.
K&A has been open for 10 years and is one of the original businesses in the promenade.
Kathy’s own childhood, in many ways, parallels the struggles of many of the families who turned out for the brunch.
Her identification with the less fortunate community members was and continues to be her inspiration for providing free meals every year.
“If I was ever in a position to give back, I was going to do it,” Cervantes said. “This is what Christmas is all about.”
Aside from Santa, the most popular attraction decked out in red was Truck 1, a key piece of equipment belonging to Anaheim Fire & Rescue.
Fire personnel showed off the massive truck, with its ladder reaching high into the sky, and gave away plastic red firefighter helmets to dozens of youngsters.
“It always makes the kids happy when we show up with the fire engine,” Firefighter Dennis Biggins said. “Maybe it will make an impression on them and one day they will want to be firefighters.”
For Fire Engineer Manny Ortega, this type of community outreach is a welcome diversion.
“This is an opportunity to take a break from all that we have to do and mingle with the community,” Ortega said. “It’s a good thing.”
There was no shortage of people donating their time for the event, thanks in part to the 100 or so volunteers from St. Joseph Heritage Health, which just moved into the Promenade this year and were participating for the first time.
“There are so many people that need things in our community,” said Renee Tatum, a supply chain manager with St. Joseph’s
The festival has grown from a few hundred people being served the first year to crowds well over 500 in recent years.
“It just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Cervantes said. “We’re very thankful to our community. Everybody has really pitched in.”