Santa will be making an early appearance in Neosho this year, when he hosts the fourth annual Breakfast with Santa event this Saturday at the Neosho Civic.

The event, sponsored by the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, runs from 8 to 11 a.m., and includes breakfast, pictures and children's crafts with Santa Claus, as well as a free children's book from Scholastic for each youngster in attendance.

In past years, Breakfast with Santa was included in the Neosho Chamber's annual Dickens Faire event, however, there have been some changes to the annual event this year, with the craft show and carriage rides not part of the 2013 event.

With the event changes, the name of the holiday tradition has also changed, known this year as the "Breakfast with Santa."

"This year we are going to focus on the kids," said Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shana Griffin. "We are going to keep the Breakfast with Santa and also do the craft kids project, that's been very successful. We just wanted to change it up just a little bit this year, and kind of do something a little different. The Breakfast with Santa is such a huge success, we just wanted to do that and kind of focus more on the kids."

Last year, the Breakfast with Santa event drew approximately 400 children, with an estimated 300 children in attendance the year prior.

After a free morning breakfast, children can line up to have their photo taken with Santa. A photographer will be on hand to take portraits with Santa, which will be available for purchase, though Griffin said parents are also welcome to take their own photos.

Children will also get to design their own Christmas tree ornament this year, another change to the event, as the craft project has been decorating stockings in years past.

The day's festivities don't end after breakfast, as the annual Neosho Christmas Parade is set for 5 p.m. that evening.
Griffin said the parade's theme is "Christmas Night of Lights" and that it will feature more than 100 entries.

While pre-registration has already ended, Griffin said the Chamber would allow late entries and encouraged those entries to call ahead, at 451-1925.

"We have sent out all the numbers to everybody that has already pre-registered, but if there are individuals that want to participate in the parade they definitely can," Griffin said. "I encourage them to call our office so we can tell them where to line up, but worst case scenario they can show up the day of and we can fit them in."

She said calling ahead of time would also give organizers more information on the entry, so that they can say a little bit about the parade member as they pass by the announcer's table.

She said the parade judges will be looking to see how parade participants incorporated this year's theme into their entry.

The parade is set to follow its traditional path this year, Griffin said, starting at the intersection of College and Brook Streets, then continuing down Spring Street onto the square, heading south on Wood Street, east onto Hickory Street, north on Washington Street and ending at Washington and McCord Streets.

The day of Christmas activities wraps up with a Christmas Jazz Concert, featuring the Jack Mitchell Band, set for 7 p.m. at the Neosho Civic.

Griffin said proceeds from the concert ticket sales will go to the Neosho Police Department's Shop with a Cop program and the Newton County Christmas for Kids program.

Tickets are on sale for $5 and can be purchased at the Neosho Police Department, Neosho Fire Department, Silhouette Imaging, Calotype Photography, First Community Bank, U.S. Bank, and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce office.

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Applications are currently being accepted for the Neosho Police Department's Shop with a Cop program. The applications can be picked up at the Neosho Police Department during normal business hours, at 201 N. College Street. Check or money order donations can also be mailed or dropped off at that address.

The local Shop with a Cop program provided more than 110 Neosho children with Christmas gifts in 2012, all through private donations.

The Newton County Christmas for Kids toy drive is also accepting applications, now through Dec. 13.

The program benefited more than 800 children last year.

Those applications can be picked up at Neosho Fire Station 1, 125 N. College St., as well as at the Redings Mill Fire Station, Granby City Hall, Seneca City Hall, Fairview City Hall and Diamond Fire Station 1.

New toys and monetary donations can also be dropped off at those locations.