Philadelphia’s 5th Police District hosted its 43rd annual christmas party at the station on Ridge Avenue on Friday. Every holiday season, two second grade classes are brought in from local elementary schools for food, entertainment and gifts. This year, the 60 special guests were from Holy Child and Levering schools in Roxborough.
Each child received at least two presents, one from Santa and one from the police station.
5th District officer Charles Kline was busy coordinating pizza delivery, a Mummers quintet and the arrival of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus on a fire truck to the station. He and the other 5th District officers look forward to the party all year, but Kline stresses that it wouldn’t happen without sponsors like McDonald’s, Secret Garden, Penn Distributors and many others. Kline praised the community’s involvement despite tight finances all around.
“The people are so generous that they always come through for this party,” he said.
Other than those who donated money for food and gifts, some donated time such as Green Bean the clown and the Broad St. Mummergram band that has led the children in singing Christmas songs for the past ten years. When the Mummergram bassist Ray Braidis asked the children what they wanted for Christmas, most yelled out “Xbox 360!” But Braidis suggested they all chip in and buy him a new car.
Levering second grade teacher Irene Klein isn’t sure that her students know of the Mummers Parade but plans to explain the tradition when they return to class. This year’s party is bittersweet for Klein, upset that the school district has recommended to close Levering sometime next year. But she’s hoping there’s a way to keep it open.
“A lot of the community is fighting for it, as you can see,” she said. “The community chips in.” She hopes the party will help to lift her students’ spirits.
Board games, hot wheels, soccer balls and backpacks were just some of the gifts the children received but the police station also raffled off four bikes, one for a boy and girl from each school. In uniform, the district’s officers all took posts handing out food and gifts, taking pictures or participating in the caroling. “These children will grow up and hopefully they’ll see that police officers are good people and that they care about us.”
7-year-old Marcus Fero has been looking forward to the party all week.
“I felt like I wanted to come every day!” he said.