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Santa Claus is coming to town … to Columbus Community Hospital.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, CCH is hosting its first-ever “Oh Deer, The Holidays Are Here!” extravaganza in part to offer the community some holiday fun as Christmas approaches. As part of it, Old Saint Nick and two of his reindeer will be on hand in his custom CCH workshop outside on the hospital grounds.

“We’re very fortunate we were able to steal Santa away from the North Pole to come visit Columbus Community Hospital,” said Amy Blaser, CCH vice president. “Santa has visited us before – several units of our hospital – and (he) always makes for happy visits. We’re very excited.”

The free event came about earlier this year as hospital leaders were discussing ways to provide some Christmas cheer to residents and shatter any stigma kids, in particular, might have of hospitals.

“We want to show families, No. 1, our appreciation for their support of our local community hospital," Blaser said. “It also originated to help children feel less intimidated by visiting the hospital.”

Additionally, it’s meant as a way for hospital staff to share their work with their loved ones.

“It’s also an opportunity for our 750-plus employees and hundreds of volunteers to bring their children and grandchildren back to their workplace and have some fun,” Blaser said.

The parking lot just north of CCH will be transformed into a winter wonderland of sorts. Attendees are asked to come in at the north parking lot off of 48th Avenue, where valet elves will show cars where to park. People will then make the short trek to Santa’s one-of-a-kind cabin, where Mr. Claus and two of his reindeer will be on site with an authentic sleigh, decorated chair and Christmas tree.

Kiddos will have the chance to get a complimentary photo taken with Santa, which will later be uploaded to the hospital’s Facebook page for parents and other family members to download.

“Children will be able to meet and greet with Santa,” Blaser said, noting they’ll also have the chance to share their wish lists with him. “Professional photos are completely free to the public.”

It’s not just about meeting Santa, though. Columbus High School’s jazz band and indoor winter percussion group will treat those in attendance to an abundance of holiday tunes. Any potential chilly weather won’t be an issue either, as there will be a hot cocoa bar setup to give people a warm and tasty treat while they enjoy the festivities.

The first 200 kiddos who show up will get a special holiday gift: A unique CCH custom ornament to add to their Christmas trees. The idea is ultimately to make “Oh Deer, The Holidays Are Here!” an annual CCH event much like its community Easter egg hunt.

“We hope it catches on, becomes tradition,” Blaser said. “Next year, we will have a new commemorative ornament … We want people to have some fun with the season.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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Managing Editor

Matt Lindberg is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the University of Kansas.

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