Old Father Christmas is gearing up for the return of the holiday season and he’s making WILLow LeaVes of Hope one of his first stops for the second annual Breakfast with Santa presented by Main Street of Hope from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Sponsored by WindRose Health Network and WindRose Pharmacy in Hope in collaboration with the Columbus Visitors Center, this year’s event is set to be even bigger than last year, organizers say.

“Last year was the first event that I had added and it went very well,” says Matt Lee, executive director of Main Street of Hope. “And hopefully this year we will add to it.”

After hundreds showed up last year, much to the delight of organizers and Santa himself, this year the event is set to be a bit more streamlined, says Vickie Tedder, co-owner of WILLow LeaVes of Hope.

“We are having three different slots at 8, 9 and 10 a.m. and those are the reservation times,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you can’t walk in, but it is more organized if you have a reservation.”

Tedder goes on to explain that the WILLow LeaVes dining room is limited and can only accommodate 85 people comfortably with that much movement going on. Last year, there were two time slots and more than 200 people, she adds.

“We kind of did an hour and a half [per visit], we had so much space to add more people,” she says. “So, this year it will be one hour time slots.”

The ladies of the Kappa Kappa Sigma sorority are returning this year to help out and raise funds for their upcoming convention that they’re hosting, Tedder says.

And, of course, Main Street of Hope will be amidst the goings on that morning helping out in the dining area and wherever help is needed, Lee says.

Tedder says she believes one of the reasons the event’s inaugural last year was so popular is it offers an opportunity for leisurely holiday fun indoors.

“I think what the kicker was for it being so successful [last year] is we didn’t get to see Santa too much with the pandemic,” Tedder says. “We missed out on that. People are wanting to be a part of the tradition. You aren’t standing in line, you are inside and get to take your coat off, participate in activities and enjoy a breakfast. It goes back to those traditional things we used to do.”

Lee says part of what made the event so special for him was seeing the kids’ faces when they got to see Santa for the first time.

Tickets for the event are $10 per person and free for kids aged four and under, Tedder says.

“I don’t think we did the kids under four get in free last year,” she says. “So, hopefully we will get mom, dad and grandparents coming with the kids.”

WILLow LeaVes of Hope is officially all decked out for the holiday season and ready to welcome Santa and all who stop in, Tedder says. And the colors, scents and atmosphere serve to remind she and others of their favorite things this holiday season. As everyone gathers for breakfast this weekend, Tedder is hopeful that the joys of the season fill the hearts of all who enter WILLow LeaVes’ doors.

For her, the kickoff of the holidays is a time for reflection and giving thanks, she says.

“You stop and it is about God and refocusing on that and being with your family,” she says. “Just being so appreciative throughout the whole year. Time to focus on gratitude.”