BRISTOL - A winter storm postponed events this week, but it didnâ€™t keep Santa and Mrs. Claus from performing their duties on Terryville Avenue Sunday afternoon.
Wojtusik Nursery hosted the couple, as dozens of families planned to share their holiday wishes at the Rt. 6 landmarkâ€™s Annual Christmas Open House.
â€śWeâ€™ve had lots of calls this morning, people wondering if Santa was still coming,â€ť event planner Cynthia Schug said. â€śHe is, we told them.â€ť
The family-owned business limited Santaâ€™s hours to later afternoon through early evening, so its regular customers stopping by for supplies earlier in the day could get their business done before the mad rush.
And rush there was, even through the wintry weather.
A large, white cardboard box by the cash register read, â€śMarine Reserves Toys for Totsâ€ť - indicating to customers the shop is a drop-off point for the local toy drive. Facilitated by the Plainville Marines outpost, this collection benefits needy families in the Central Connecticut region this holiday season.
â€śWe try to make people aware of the need for unwrapped toys to help families whose children wouldnâ€™t get them otherwise,â€ť Schug explained. â€śWe started collecting in October and this year has been kind of slow for us. Weâ€™re hoping it picks up so by the end of the season we have a lot to give them.â€ť
Wojtusikâ€™s goal is eight full boxes by Dec. 15, when Marines come to pick them up in preparation for distribution. Cash and check donations are also welcomed.
Those who came for the nurseryâ€™s Open House enjoyed fresh popcorn and apple cider, sales on holiday items and a beautiful display of trees, wreaths and a Christmas village upstairs.
Since opening in 1956, Wojtusik has been a popular destination for area residents who seek gardening, farm and work supplies. The second-floor Christmas shop opened in 1980.
Designer and Head Cashier Stephanie Sirois decorates the wreaths and small trees displayed throughout the store.
â€śI get to craft all day long; can you think of a more perfect job?â€ť Sirois said in her workshop, surrounded by ribbons and dazzling ornaments.
Meanwhile, Head Designer Denise LaFleur decorates the Christmas Shop upstairs and the trees there, each reflecting a different theme.
More than a dozen regular staff members at Wojtusik make the Christmas season as special as they can for visitors. Outdoors, father and son Ralph and Ryan Rodriguez trim the trees. In the greenhouse, Scott builds the memorial boxes people purchase to adorn the graves of loved ones. The Wojtusik family will bring these tributes to the cemetery themselves in special cases, such as for elderly folks who canâ€™t get out or families who winter in Florida.
For those who missed the Clauses but would still like to pick up or drop off some Christmas spirit, Wojtusik Nursery and the Christmas Shop are open seven days a week and located at 750 Terryville Ave., Bristol.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.