Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like a photo I took one year during the Partnership’s Christmas on the Plaza celebration. Just as Santa Claus stepped down from the fire truck onto the plaza, a toddler, no older than 3 or 4, recognized him, lets out a squeal and started running across the plaza, with his mother shouting, “Wait. Wait.”

Santa noticed the small figure hurtling toward him, leaned down and the small blond girl crashed into a huge bear hug. We should all have such a day. Maybe this year it could happen again.

Last Sunday, with a chill wind whipping across their faces, volunteers with the Pacific Partnership began getting ready to launch the 2012 Christmas on the Plaza, the last of its annual outdoor events.

This is when Santa Claus comes to Pacific. It will be Saturday, Dec. 8, this year. The volunteers decorated the pavilion and trees in the plaza that Rob Schmidt planted several years ago, that he had salvaged them from a nursery that needed the space. He also planted some of the same trees in front of Pacific Care Center and in front of the Tri-County Senior Center.

The Schmidt family is well-vested in the plaza, where the pavilion is named for the late Bob Schmidt, Rob’s father, in recognition of the contribution he made toward building the pavilion and the plaza as a whole. Smith was the treasurer of the Partnership from its inception until his untimely death in 2008.

Christmas on the Plaza will start with a Parade of Lights in downtown Pacific organized by Pat Smiley.

The Chamber of Commerce wants local businesses to light up the town this Christmas season. In a recent Friday Update, the Chamber’s email newsletter, Fran Kopsky, Chamber executive director, asked businesses to get in the Christmas spirit.

“Pacific will be full of activity with everyone getting ready to enjoy the holiday season,” Kopsky said. “Please consider decorating your business windows and outside with lights and holiday décor. No matter where your business is located in Pacific you’re part of our community and we’re glad you’re here.”

Christmas on the Plaza, hosted by the Pacific Partnership, traditionally kicks off the Christmas holiday season. Jenny Devine chairs the event.

Santa Claus will be available for children’s requests and photos. Nike and Robertsville students will perform during Santa’s visit.

Meanwhile, up in Gray Summit, Cleta Null and a score of volunteers are getting ready to play Santa to more than 600 needy families. That means wrapped presents for every family member and Christmas dinner on the table. If you want to help you can contact Cleta at 314-451-2441.

Think of my photo as a Christmas card from a sentimental editor. I don’t believe in ghosts and spirits, but Santa Claus is a friend of mine.

A group of friends and I went to the Peabody Opera House recently to see the New York Radio City Musical Rockettes do their famous high kicks. In between their half-dozen numbers, Santa came on the stage to keep the audience revved up while the dancers changed their costumes.

In one skit, a doubting youngster said Santa couldn’t possibly be real with all those shopping mall Santas. Santa said it was magic, and placing his finger at the side of his nose, Santa summoned a couple of rows of Santas who did a good imitation of a Rockettes routine. As they made one particular turn, suddenly the background lit up with rows of Santas extending backward from those on the stage as far as the eye could see. There were hundreds of projected Santas who danced, in perfect unison and making the exact same movements as those on the stage — or vice versa. It was magic.

But it was just a close second to my live Santa on the plaza photo. Consider it a Christmas card.

Pauline Masson can be reached at or 314-805-9800.