Santa’s good list keeps getting better | VailDaily.com

Santa’s good list keeps getting better

Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger spent his evening wisley and well, helping local youngsters in this year's Shop With a Cop.
Randy Wyrick|randy@vaildaily.com |

VAIL — Some of Santa’s helpers come geared to handle anything.

Take Monday’s Shop With a Cop, for instance. Kids from all over Eagle County were paired with Santa’s helpers from local police, sheriff and fire departments. They took the kids shopping, brought them back to the Four Seasons in Vail, spent a little quality time with Santa Claus and helped kids wrap presents.

If you’re Santa, you get to park the sleigh for free at the Four Seasons.

If you’re good, you might get to be one of Santa’s helpers.

“That would make you a dependent Claus,” Santa said with a ho ho ho. In this case — and you might want to take a Sharpie to this line if your kids will read this — Santa is Business Editor Scott Miller.

Kids ask for the darndest things

Kids sidle up next to Santa and ask for some amazing stuff. Puppies and ponies are popular. Santa breaks it gently to them that he doesn’t bring live animals. It’s news some kids take better than others. When a 3-year-old girl learned Santa could not bring her a kitty, she wailed like someone had put Barney the Purple Dinosaur on a barbecue spit.

But like most things that don’t go your way when you’re 3, it didn’t do any permanent damage.

Shop from the Top

Moses Gonzales was a Vail police officer who retired earlier this year — from everything except Shop With a Cop duty.

He started the program 15 years ago when some command-type person with the Vail police department poked his head out of his office and proclaimed this idea was brilliant.

Unlike so many command-type ideas, Shop With a Cop actually is brilliant.

Gonzales and a handful of others got it off the ground. Local construction companies came up with most of the money, Gonzales said.

“People have been so generous for so long. It’s one of the best things we do,” Gonzales said.

Schools come up with a list of kids who might benefit from this, and away they go, tugging their cops along with them.

The kids get about $100 each to buy gifts for their family members. Like all of us, if they have any money left, they might get a little something for themselves. Most don’t, though.

In fact, the fastest fast draw you’ll ever see cops perform is reaching into their wallet to discreetly pull out a little extra cash if their kid runs a little short.

Mark Herron is the Four Seasons general manager and says they’re happy to host it every year. He had that merry Christmas look about him as he wandered around his hotel’s Bighorn Room greeting people and making sure there was enough of everything, including holiday spirit.

“The police and fire departments giving back to our community like this says so much about what our community is,” Herron said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.