Polar Express comes to River Park

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Santa Claus is coming to town! His village at River Park is coming to life and this year there's a new polar theme.

Just like the stockings, the TV's are hung with care at Santa's Village at River Park Shopping Center. "It's really exciting, really busy, Santa has come down from the North Pole to see the kids of Fresno," said Mady, Santa's elf.

New this year, Santa's Village will also be filled with snow and a wintry theme for the Polar Express. He makes his official stop in Fresno on Friday morning, but he wanted to share a special message with valley residents. "Plain and simple, Christmas is about children and that's what I look forward to," said Santa.

Santa's Village will also be giving back to Make-A-Wish of Central California this year. "Santa wanted to give back to the kids that he comes and sees. Our goal is to raise $10,000 and a percentage of everything the studio makes goes to Make-A-Wish as well if you want to come by and make a donation," explained Mady.

Make-A-Wish grants wishes to kids dealing with life-threatening medical conditions. For Heather Frandsen, it's a gift her family has received. "We just had no worries. It was nice to come back and look at those pictures, and for the girls to look at them and remember how much fun they had and it was really escape from the reality of what they deal with."

Her daughter Melissa had her wish granted while 10-year-old daughter Mai is waiting on a wish. They both suffer from a genetic blood disorder. Frandsen says it's a touching tribute to see other give back. "I think at that time, they are reminded how much they are loved."

Each Wish Kid will also get a free picture with Santa, a visit Mai is looking forward to.

Santa arrives at River Park this Friday and will be here until Christmas Eve, just in time to deliver Christmas presents.
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