MOUNT VERNON — Hundreds of families took part in the array of holiday activities at the Skagit Valley Herald Christmas Fund party on Saturday afternoon at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

Many of them had picked up their Christmas gifts from the fairgrounds on Wednesday or Thursday, and were now back to take pictures with Santa, make reindeer hats and drink milk and eat cookies.

“(The fund) actually shows the joy of Christmas,” Selena Arellano, 14, said as she waited in line for an arts and crafts table.

A few feet away, kids could be seen hefting a 35-pound SWAT team vest onto their shoulders as Mount Vernon police officer Edgar Serrano made sure they didn’t buckle under the weight.

“Try wearing that for six hours straight,” Serrano said.

Just then, The Grinch, brought to life by retired Economic Development Association of Skagit County Executive Director Don Wick, came over to complain that Serrano was trying to arrest him for ruining Christmas.

Kids giggled behind their hands as they watched Serrano place the grumpy green character in the back of his patrol car.

This year marks the Christmas Fund’s 69th year of providing toys, books and holiday meals to more than 1,000 families in need in Skagit County.

In 2017, the fund was able to reach 5,169 children and 3,397 adults through collaborations with the Skagit Valley Herald, Community Action, Sea Mar, Toys for Tots, the Mount Vernon Fire Department and 250 volunteers. More than $106,000 was donated by 390 donors.

Sonia Garza and Tommie Yturralde, co-chairs of the Christmas party, said 1,500 families had registered in 2018, and with late registration offered through next week, that number will likely grow.

— Reporter Leah Allen: 360-416-2149,, Twitter: @Leah_SVH

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