St. Nick skates with kids in Oak Creek, poses at ski area |

St. Nick skates with kids in Oak Creek, poses at ski area

Jack Weinstein

As a 3-year-old, Landon Ripley's legs aren't quite long enough to get him anywhere quickly on a pair of ice skates.

"Santa, wait!" he yelled.

Landon's lack of speed didn't deter him from trying to catch up to the other children who were ice skating with Santa Claus on Sunday afternoon at the Oak Creek Ice Rink.

He eventually caught up with jolly old Saint Nick for a few laps around the rink.

Landon said he enjoyed his skate with Santa.

"I really like him," he said.

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In its fourth year, the ice skating with Santa event originally was created to let people in the community know that Oak Creek Ice Rink is there and it's free, said Oak Creek Hockey Association co-presidents Mich­ele Barkal and Johrene Story.

"A lot of people in the community don't know skates are free, everything's free," Story said. She added that the rink and skate rentals were free during times designated for public skating, which occur every day.

Julie Rubalcaba, who brought her 7-year-old son, Gregory, to the event, said she heard about it through the hockey association. She said Gregory wanted to skate with Santa.

"I wanted to come meet him," he said.

Eden Mayer, 5, said her experience skating with Santa was good.

"He gave us candy canes," she said.

Johnny Barkal, 8, described his skate with Santa as "awesome." Aidan Story, 6, said it was "cool."

"He gets to come here and spend time on the ice with us, which is cool," he said.

Johnny added that the opportunity also allowed him to tell Santa about a present he forgot to mention during Santa's visit last week to Bonfiglio Drug in Oak Creek.

Tyla Crisp, 7, said she had fun skating with Santa, who held her hand.

"We talked about what I wanted for Christmas," she said.

Oak Creek wasn't Santa's only Routt County stop Sunday.

He also appeared at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, at two locations between noon and 4 p.m. From 2 to 4 p.m., Santa greeted families and posed for pictures near the gondola building. Before that, he was outside Slopeside Grill.

Cody and Leslie Perry, of Steamboat, brought their children, Kolie, 9, and Cameron, 10 months, to take a picture with Santa. Cameron didn't seem very excited to be there. He sobbed while Santa held him.

"I think he's just a little unsure," Leslie Perry said. "It's his first Christmas, his first time seeing Santa."

Shelby and Kurt Dennis, of Denver, took a break from skiing for their children, 4-year-old Kelsey and 10-month-old Delaney, to get their picture taken with Santa.

Kelsey said she didn't expect to see Santa on her family's ski trip but that it was "cool."

Ken and Terese Manley, and their 11-year-old daughter, Juliet, joined Santa for a family portrait. Ken Manley said getting their picture taken with Santa was just another thing the family from Golden was doing on their visit to Steamboat Springs until Wednesday.

"We just came up to get the Christmas spirit," he said. "This is where it's at. … This is the best place on earth."

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