‘The real’ Santa returns to SE Portland for the holidays

Take a look, and you’ll see why, compared to others playing the role, kids insist that Eastport Plaza’s Santa Claus is the genuine St. Nickolas …

Jolly Santa Claus welcomes families to his new outer East Portland home in the Lents neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Because all their storefronts have been leased, it looked like Santa Claus wouldn’t have a place to call “home” during the Holidays at Eastport Plaza this year.

“But, when Eastport Plaza’s ownership learned about the situation,” said the center’s manager, Dianne Gill, “they took action to make sure ‘Santa’s Place’ would open on schedule this season.”

Eastport Plaza Manager Dianne Gill decorates the Santa’s Place Christmas Giving Tree with tags for gifts that will go to children supported by The Salvation Army and Trillium Family Services.

So, in the parking lot behind the Bank of America, in the Community Outreach Christmas Tree area, they brought in a temporary office trailer, such as is used at construction sites.

The staff decked out the mobile office, and made it festive with Holiday trim – including a fireplace. And, Santa’s Throne – the original chair built for the shopping center when it opened in 1960, and recently refurbished – was placed in its own cozy spot.

Mary Benton and 8-month-old Elora Rose Benton have a visit with the man who, they say, is the real Santa.

“Over the decades, thousands of kids have sat on Santa’s knee on that chair,” Gill remarked. “Now that they’ve grown up and become parents, they say they’re thrilled to give their own children, and grandchildren, this magical experience.”

In addition to a visit with the traditionally costumed, white-bearded Santa, guests will find fresh popcorn, courtesy of the Century 16 Theater and Santa’s Workshop toy-testing area.

Supports community charities
“We’ve created Santa’s Place as a way to help the less fortunate in our community, Gill said. “Admission to Santa’s Place is free, but for those who can, we ask they bring a donation of a new unwrapped toy, a new coat, a new blanket, or a non-perishable food item or two.”

Or, visitors can take a gift-buying tag off the Christmas Giving Tree in support of those in need. “Donations will stay in East Portland,” Gill promised, and will be distributed by four community partners.”

This year, those partners again include:

  • Salvation Army Angel Tree
  • Sunshine Division Food Barrel
  • Trillium Family Services
  • Portland Fire & Rescue Toy-N-Joy Makers


“Come visit me!” welcomes Santa.

Bring your camera
And, unlike the Santa booths set up at many malls, Santa’s Place isn’t a disguised commercial photo studio.

“We encourage everyone to bring a camera – or to use their phone – to take pictures of their kids with Santa to keep, to put on Facebook, or send to distant friends and relatives,” Gill said.

Santa’s Place

  • Open December 3 through December 22
  • 11 a.m. ‘till 3 p.m., and then 4 p.m. ‘till 8 pm (Closed Sundays)
  • Eastport Plaza Shopping Center
  • 4000 SE 82nd Avenue – Bank of America Parking Lot
  • Free, donation requested
  • Bring camera to take photos
  • Children to be accompanied by an adult
  • See their website: CLICK HERE.

2012 Santa’s Place is sponsored by Eastport Plaza and supported by:

  • East Portland News
  • Century Theatre [Cinemark]
  • Home Run Graphics
  • Rent-A-Center
  • Wal-Mart


© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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