Shortly before 6:00 pm Saturday evening, Santa Claus took a break from posing for pictures with children and walked to the steps of the Moore County Courthouse in Dumas. The Dumas Jr. High School and 6th Grade Choirs had just finished performing on the steps, and Candy Cane Lane was starting to wind down as the sun set behind the buildings on Dumas Avenue. Santa took the switch as it was handed to him, turned, and pressed the button lighting up the courthouse square. Without pausing, he strode back to his little house on 7th Street. He still had children lined up to have a picture taken with him. According to Dumas/Moore County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carl Watson, Santa posed for pictures with more than 400 children Saturday.
After several years of less than great attendance, the chamber this year seems to have found the right formula for attracting visitors. "I think everybody was very, very pleased," said Watson. "The vendors seemed very happy, which was very good … with the weather being what it was, I think we had a record number of vendors. We had 50. The combination of doing it earlier, from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, so that people could get their children in and get home was certainly an advantage that I think a lot of people appreciated us doing … and just the support from the community of people showing up."
Unlike last year, when the freezing temperatures kept even Mrs. Claus at home, this year's event benefited from near perfect weather. It was not cold; the wind and dirt were not blowing; it was a beautiful fall day. "I think the mayor said that was the most people he had remembered seeing there, said Watson. "We can thank the weather for a large portion of that. It was phenomenal."
So many people packed the area Saturday, that the little train from Cactus could not drive along the front of the courthouse. Unlike most years, when attendance tends to flag as time goes by, people were still arriving even during the last hour of the event; some who had not heard that the time had been changed from last year's 4:00 to 8:00 pm, showed up at 6:00 pm, as things were coming to a close.
Those who attended heard a lot of Christmas-themed music from the bands and choirs as they shopped. Large crowds gathered at the courthouse steps for each performance, and not all were parents. No one went away hungry Saturday. Visitors feasted on bunuelos, pozole, barbecue, hamburgers and other foods. There was plenty of hot chocolate to be had, in spite of the warm weather.
Watson said he appreciated the help of both Moore County and the City of Dumas in making Saturday's event a success. Watson was happy with the way things turned out. "Overall I couldn't have asked for a better … on a scale of one to 10, I would have to give it a nine. I would give it a 10, but I like to be a little conservative," he said laughing.