Jingle Kringle Brings Holiday Spirit to Eloise Resource Center
by James Coulter
Twas the week before Christmas, and down in Eloise, every little one was stirring, doing whatever they please. Local children and their families enjoyed Christmas fun with games, treats, and art during Jingle Kringle at the Eloise Resource Center on a Friday evening just before Christmas.
Guests entered the community center in Winter Haven and received bags of candy, coloring activities, and other free treats. Outside the center, they engaged in fun activities with holiday selfies and photo-ops, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, and even a large game of Guess Who with famous holiday characters.
Attendees could also peruse arts and crafts and watch guitar and dance performances in conjunction with Prodigy, the after-school art program hosted at the Eloise Resource Center.
Besides providing children classes on arts, crafts, music, and dance, Prodigy also offers local children an opportunity to learn life lessons while spending quality time after school, explained Kelly VanBuskirk, Prodigy Site Manager.
For the past two years, VanBuskirk has been overseeing Prodigy. She loved being able to showcase the art and hard work of her students at Jingle Kringle, and she appreciates being able to offer local children an opportunity to utilize their time after school to enrich their lives.
“We offer everything to keep kids out of trouble and learn life lessons and skills that they might not be able to do [through] art,” she said.
Cameron Ramsey, the Recreational Coordinator, hosted the event to provide local children and their families an opportunity to enjoy holiday fun in a safe environment. With many holiday events canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, this event offered holiday festivities for people seeking a much-needed reprieve from these uncertain times.
The turnout that evening proved decent. Nearly 400 to 500 people visited the center. The overall limited capacity was facilitated through limited advertising and marketing for the event, ensuring that the general crowd was a smaller, more manageable size, Ramsey said.
“I just wanted to do something a little bit new, and, with the pandemic we are going through, we find new ways to space things out a little more and have fun and games,” Ramsey said. “We hope that everyone has a very merry Christmas, and stay safe out there, and we look forward to getting back to our normal routine sometime in the future.”
Dereck Harp, Recreational Superintendent, wanted to offer their annual holiday event with modifications to ensure a smaller crowd in a safer environment while offering the same holiday fun and games return guests have come to expect. Otherwise, the turnout was decent, and the reception proved exceptional, he said.
“I love seeing the people of Eloise come together and have a good time and see the parents come together with their children with a nice family atmosphere and enjoy it and prepare for the holidays,” he said. “People celebrate new things. That is what I love best about this.”