HERKIMER — Two-year-old Charisma wasn’t so certain about sitting on Santa Claus’ lap on Saturday.
Though all dressed up for the occasion to have his photo with him, Charisma still wanted mom Christina Hoke, of Ilion, with her. That’s when Santa suggested that mom get in the picture holding her daughter in her lap.
Santa Claus, played by Carl Stafford, posed for pictures from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during a Santa Claws event at the Herkimer Community Museum with children throughout the community. This wasn’t an average picture with Santa, though, as a replica of a dinosaur skull wearing a large Santa Claus hat was also part of the photo.
The dinosaur skull is part of the “Mesozoica: The Age of Dinosaurs” exhibit at the Herkimer Community Museum, which includes replicas of other dinosaur bones. Other exhibits include “Tutankhamun: Wonderful things from The Pharaoh’s Tomb” and “Paleomania: Evolution of the Dinosaurs.” Visitors to the museum can also participate in a fossil dig.
Dan Sargent, the museum director, said people were lining up for the event before opening on Saturday.
“We have an advisory committee made up almost entirely of community members, and they wanted to know how can we get the word out about the museum,” said Sargent, about the conception of the first-ever Santa Claws event. “We hope people will come back and see more of it.”
Photos aren’t normally allowed in the museum, but an exception was made for this event.
Six-year-old Gabriel Smithson was disappointed about not being able to do the dig at the museum on Saturday, but still had his photo taken with Santa. His younger sister Addison also had her own picture taken with Santa Claus, and said she also likes dinosaurs.
“We heard about it through Barringer Road Elementary School,” said Melissa Smithson, of Ilion, Gabriel and Addison’s mother.
Joan Swieton, of Herkimer, went with her daughter and two grandchildren to the event to have their photo with Santa and the dinosaur skull.
“He likes dinosaurs,” said Swieton, about her seven-year-old grandson Rylee Greenwood. “He’s been here before to the museum because he likes dinosaurs so much. He goes to the library to take books out about dinosaurs.”
When asked how he felt getting his pic with both Santa Claus and a dinosaur, Rylee said “Good.”
Also with Rylee was four-year-old sister Lily who nodded her head in agreement when asked if she also liked dinosaurs.
The photos printed of Santa and the dinosaur skull with their visitors were processed by Herkimer County Community College students enrolled in the photographic technology program. Students would take the photo, and then load the image up on a computer in an adjacent room. A student then had to place the image inside a Christmas frame on the computer.
Page 2 of 2 - “This gives them a chance to use their skills,” said Gale Farley, HCCC associate professor of photographic technology, who supervised the students.
The museum, located at 301 N. Prospect St., displays replicas of artifacts and other items through an agreement between HCCC and the International Museum Institute of New York. The college also partnered with the Village of Herkimer and Herkimer Now group to operate the museum.
According to its website, www.herkimercommunitymuseum.com, its hours of operation are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A gift shop includes toys, T-shirts and educational items. All revenue goes back into maintaining the museum’s operation. The museum also has its own Facebook page.