Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all of the helpers invaded Polar Park. For the next nine days, the park would be bustling. Sledding, skiing, skating, and singing were just a few of the festivities that attracted them.  And, as usual, there was plenty to eat and drink.

            Once the parade ended in the park, Santa made the annual announcement. "Welcome everyone! Welcome to Winter Wonderland. Let the festivities begin."

             The first event was the ice skating. The participants made their way to the Slippery Slope Rink, sometimes referred to as the frozen pond. Those who wanted to watch gathered round. Naturally Elmer would compete. He was practically a shoe in with his famous double trouble tripple toe loop. Everyone clapped as Ria, Jimbo, and Jackson joined Elmer on the pond. The biggest round of applause, however, went to Bee-eff and Dee-ell, the pair of penguins that had been a gift to Santa from the South Pole.

            The Bell of Truth sounded, and the competition began. Ria landed on her bottom a time or two, but she didn't let that stop her. Elmer did his usual move, and added something new, his special camel bell axle, and the crowd cheered loudly; but Bee-eff and Dee-ell stole the show. They glided, leapt, and spun around the frozen pond perfectly. Their skating was so synchronized that most of the time it was hard to tell that there were actually two penguins skating. The crowd roared, and Bee-eff and Dee-ell won the ribbon, which of course, was awarded by Santa.

            Elmer was the first to congratulate the couple. "You were superb!" He extended his hand.

            Jackson came off the ice laughing. "That was a hoot! Those penguins looked terrific!"

            "You weren't so bad, yourself," Sheeny said, taking his hand. She led him toward the Gazebo, where the refreshments were.

***

            Later that evening, the town folk gathered in Jingle Bell Square, around the Big Tree, for the Christmas concert. Coy's voice was the best, so he always led the singing.♫City sidewalks, busy sidewalks♪, he sang, and the helpers joined in the chorus ♫silver bells, silver bells♪.

            Coy was leading the carolers in White Christmas when a loud flapping noise was heard overhead. Everyone turned and looked up as something huge and white circled the park.  Suddenly the night sky was split by a brilliant rainbow, and the Snow Dragon glided gracefully to the ground.

            The stunned crowd gathered around as Phred and Noel dismounted. Phred shared his remarkable story with the helpers, and the dragon punctuated it with quiet purring, "Rrrrri, rii."

            "So, I talked her into competing in the ice sculpture event," Phred said.

            Everyone was delighted to welcome the dragon into their community.

            "Was dat, Boppi?" Nadie looked at Boog.

            "A snow dragon," Boog whispered.  

            "Rri, You may call me Charisma, rrrrri" the dragon purred, dazzling the crowd with the sparkling rainbow colors that streamed from her nostrils."

            Nadie clapped his hands and squealed. "Ohhh, Cawisma! I wann --"

            "Oh no you don't!" Holly snatched Nadie from Boog.  "You are not allowed to turn into a snow dragon. There will be a consequence if you do!"

            "Um, wat de conseqwence?"

            Holly exhaled deeply. "I don't know, but you can bet you'll be sorry."

            Boog whispered in Holly's ear. "I think it would be pretty cool to be a snow dragon."

            "Don't you encourage him," Holly whispered back.

            At last the events of the first day were over, and everyone played in the park. Lots of elfalescents played with sparklers, a rare treat. Many helpers enjoyed the sleigh rides and free style skating on the pond; probably the most fun, though, was walking in the Winter Wonderland. The evergreen trees were decorated with white twinkling lights and, with the stars shining above, Polar Park was a fantasy land.

***

            The next morning a crowd gathered at the Ski Jump. Donovan was especially excited about this event. During his free time, he'd been practicing. Sheeny, Clancy, and Yort started the competition and had nice jumps. Tubbs would go next. He sat on a snow bank and put on  his ski boots.

            "Best of luck," Donovan said.

            "Back at ya." Tubbs stood up, and Donovan handed him the ski poles. "You're bound to win." Tubbs smiled at Donovan. Even Tubbs couldn't be grumpy during Winter Wonderland.

            Donovan shook his head. "I dunno, Tubbs, but I'm gonna try my best."

            Tubbs nodded, and pushed off.

            Donovan watched from above. "Nice jump," he hollered to Tubbs. Then he took his position at the top of the hill.

            "Here goes nothing," he whispered. He dug his poles into the packed snow. Down the slope and up the incline he skied. Up, up, and JUMP! Donovan soared thought the air, and landed brilliantly, as the crowd roared. It was, indeed, the longest jump, and Donovan accepted his ribbon from Santa.

            Tubbs patted Donovan on the back, and together they headed toward the skating pond, where they were both participating in the ice sculpture contest.

            Meanwhile, on the hill, the Reindeer Games had begun. All of the reindeer competed vigorously. Comet won Antler Tag; Jingles, Olive, and Dancer won the Triple R (Reindeer Relay Race).  Vixen managed to Buck the Elf, and Cupid proved to be the best at Antler Ring Toss. Donder, Blitzen, Dasher, and Prancer took the prize in Flight Formation. That was no surprise considering they were all members of Santa's team. Rojo won the Bush Hurdle, and in Leap Elf, Rudolph, and Verde tied for first place. But everyone agreed that the most coveted prize, the Reindeer Pole, should be awarded to Noel, the little deer who courageously accompanied Phred into the Starlight Forest, and made friends with the Snow Dragon.

***

            And so, for the next five days, the celebration continued with all kinds of games and events. At last there were just two days left. The ice sculpture competition, which circled the exterior of the skating pond, would be judged the following afternoon, so the dragon, Charisma, and the other helpers were working hard to finish their statues.

            The Santa Look-Alike contest was Coy's favorite. He was the roly-poly sort, probably due to too much Kringle Crunchy Cornbread. He decided against the pillow for his belly, and just tightened his belt a notch. He topped himself off with his Santa hat. Satisfied, he made his way to Jingle Bell Square, where the contest would be judged.

            All of the look-alike Santas formed a circle around the Big Tree. Santa and Mrs. Claus inspected the contestants, shaking their heads and conferring from time to time.

            Mrs. Claus clicked her tongue. "Pitiful, simply pitiful."

            Santa laughed. "Not that bad."

            The contestants followed Santa and the missus to the Gazebo, where Santa would announce the winner. Mrs. Claus whispered in Santa's ear, and he whispered in hers.

            "The competition was stiff," Santa boomed, "and I am a tough guy to imitate."

            Mrs. Claus chuckled. "One of you did, however, stand out as a reasonable look-alike."

            "This year's winner is Coy." Santa handed Coy his ribbon, and Mrs. Claus kissed him on the cheek.

            "Oooo," the crowd yelled, and with that, they dispersed, and filtered throughout Polar Park.

            The last event of the day was the Sled Race. Nobby, Boog, Dulcie, Violet, North Pole Phil, and Phred pulled their sleds to the starting line. It was anyone's guess who would win. Boog and North Pole Phil were the favorites -- Boog because he was a light weight elf and was faster than the speed of dusted reindeer (not really, but he was very fast) -- Phil because he was a heavy weight bear, and he was really fast, too.

            Once everyone was in place, Santa yelled, "Ready, set, go," and the race was on. Violet took the lead immediately, followed by Phil, then Boog. Boog shifted his weight, and whizzed past Phil. Violet and Boog were neck and neck, but Boog carefully steered his sled and gained enough speed to race past Violet just in time to cross the finish line.

            "Yes!" Boog shouted as his sled turned over, and he toppled off.

            Laughing, Violet and Phil helped him to his feet, and congratulated him. The competitors hurried to the Gazebo, where Santa gave Boog his ribbon.

            "Bong." It was the ring of truth, which summoned the crowd for Santa's closing speech.

            "Tomorrow is the final day of Winter Wonderland, and then our busiest time will be upon us. We've had lots of fun this year, and a few surprises, too." Santa's eye twinkled. "It has been a pleasure to welcome the dragon, Charisma, to our community. The ice sculptures will be judged immediately before the Snow Ball tomorrow. Mrs. Claus and I want to encourage each of you to put on your finest, and join us at the annual Snow Ball tomorrow night. It will be our last chance to dance and  make merry this season. So farewell, until tomorrow night."

            The crowd began to break when . . .

            "SPLAT!" The snowball whizzed past Sheeny and hit Phred in the back of the head.

            "That's it!" Phred hollered, and the snowball fight was on. Although it was never scheduled, it wouldn't be Winter Wonderland without the 'annual' snowball fight, which traditionally broke out on the eve of the Snow Ball.

`           There were no teams. It was all helpers for themselves. Although it wasn't stated, there was a special prize for the helper who knocked Santa's hat off, so Santa took more hits than anyone.

            "You little gonniff!" Santa hurled a snowball at Elmer. "Horseshoes!" Santa yelled as his winter weapon hit its target.

            Jackson's snowball hit Santa squarely on his bottom. "Yippers!" Jackson groaned, and grabbed another fistful of snow. Just as he was about to whip it, he took a direct hit in the back of the head. Slipping to the ground, he turned to face his attacker.

            Sheeny was rolling in the snow laughing.

            Jackson started laughing, too. "Geez, I thought you liked me!"

            "That's the point." Then, breaking the time-honored rule about hitting an elf when he's down, Sheeny jumped on him and jammed a snowball right in his mouth.

            "Yechhh," Jackson sputtered. "You're gonna get it now!" Jackson was now targeting Sheeny. ZAP! PIFF! SPLAT!

            "Okay, okay!" Sheeny squealed. "Let's get Santa."

            Snowballs whizzed through the air, mainly toward Santa, but no one was excluded. Charisma joined in the fun as she hurled an icy ball at Phred. ZAP! Right on target.

            Boog, Donovan, and Yort busied themselves making snowballs and hurling them at Santa. The frozen weapons were firing so rapidly that no one could tell who threw them. But, between the three elves, Santa's hat didn't stand a chance. WHIZ! SPLAT! Santa's hat hit the ground.

            "Yay! Hooray!" The crowd cheered as Santa slipped and landed on his bottom.

            Laughing loudly, Santa surrendered. "You got me!" He rubbed his backside. "I don't even know who hit me."

            "It was Yort/Boog/Donovan," The crowd yelled in unison.

            "So, who was it?" Santa asked.

            "Me, me," the three elves chorused.

            Santa scratched his head. "Hmmm, then I will award three prizes."

            Donovan, Yort, and Boog nodded their agreement. And so, finally, with all tension released, Winter Wonderland was almost over.

***

            The last day of the festival dawned, clear and cold. There were no scheduled activities in the morning, so many folks passed their time ice skating, skiing, of just strolling through the park. Others stayed home to prepare for the Snow Ball.

            Then, there were the ice sculptors. They were putting the finishing touches on their masterpieces, for the afternoon judging. Ria's rendition of Bee-eff and Dee-ell was quite good. Donovan was proud of his likeness of Vixen. Tessie sculpted a likeness of Ted E. Bear, and it looked just like him.

            Santa arrived at exactly half past, and began to examine the statues. "A remarkable likeness of Ted." He admired Tubbs' sculpture of a toy soldier, and he praised Rose's Christmas mouse. In fact, they were all so good that he thought he would have a tough decision until he came to the Snow Dragon's statue, and he knew he had found the winner. "Outstanding," he boomed, admiring the likeness of himself. "Charisma, you have taken first prize!"

            Charisma was thrilled, and she exhaled dazzling rainbows into the air.


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