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Immokalee Pioneer Museum Hosts COVID-Friendly Santa Meet and Greet

Santa Meet & Greet
Andrea Perdomo
Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch manager Brent Trout greets children while dressed as Santa on Dec. 19

The holiday season is looking a little different this year with events and gatherings being cancelled to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In Immokalee, the Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch nonetheless found a way to bring some Christmas cheer to local children.

Museum manager Brent Trout’s job typically leans a little more to the administrative side, but on Dec.19, he took on the role of Ol’ Saint Nick.

"Immokalee was having a Santa Claus at a Christmas parade and due to the pandemic it got cancelled because of the potential for spreading the virus," Trout said. "So I saw this happen and I was concerned because Immokalee may or may not have enough opportunities for kids to see Santa this year."

After a week of practicing his "Santa" voice, Trout put on the beloved character's red suit, complete with milky white wig and beard. Before taking a seat beneath a cactus bedecked with Christmas decorations, he put on a face shield.

"Basically what we are offering is you come in front of the historic Roberts’ home, you get out of your car, take your own photos with Santa, get right back in your car and you can go check out the museum and the grounds if you like," Trout said. "But we’re making this safe, fast, effective and we just want to give kids the opportunity because I have two children at home and I know how important it is for little kids to see Santa, and so I wasn’t going to let out community down, because that’s what we’re here for."

A steady steam of visitors made their way to the ranch to take a photo with Santa.

Among them was Teresa Ramirez who came on foot with her 8-year-old daughter, Neveah.

Speaking in Spanish, Ramirez said she heard about the photo opportunity on the radio. Her daughter had expressed a desire to see Santa this year, so she brought Neveah to make her happy.

When asked what she told Santa she wanted for Christmas, Neveah said: "a science kit or books."

Children were given individually wrapped candy canes and stuffed farm animals to take home.

Information for upcoming events at the Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch in Immokalee can be found online.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.