The long line of parents and children who waited to meet Santa Claus Friday at the Eastpoint pavilion showed just how much enthusiasm has grown for the annual event.

More than $1,500 raised by Eastpoint businesses, individuals and organizations went to buy gifts, with some donated directly, that each child could enjoy.

Organizer Dottye Thornburg and her bevy of elves helped distribute nearly 400 age-appropriate gifts well into the evening, topping off the parade that delighted onlookers in the afternoon.

Her mother-in-law, Sue Thornburg, stood alongside Santa Claus as his chief elf. Santa’s visit was once again arranged with the help of local businessman Rex Pennycuff, who patiently assisted the jolly old elf in giving the children the attention they deserved.

Representatives of Centennial Bank handed out chocolate milk and cookies to make the anticipation even more enjoyable – By DAVID ADLERSTEIN