FAIRFIELD — Julius Verastegui met Santa Claus for the first time on Friday afternoon. At least, the first time that really counted.
He’s been around Santa in past years. But he’s only 3 and is just beginning to understand what Santa is about.
“He’s seen him at the mall, but this is the first time he’s actually gotten excited,” said his mother, Cherelle Verastegui of Suisun City.
The Verasteguis were among the dozens of families at a holiday celebration put on by the NorthBay Healthcare A Baby’s Coming prenatal program. The program is for women who have no insurance or who are covered by the Partnership HealthPlan of California and MediCal.
Seventy-six families and 182 children came to see Santa Claus during a two-hour event that began at 1:30 p.m., according to NorthBay Healthcare officials.
“Santa is the best,” Julius said as he waited in the lobby of the NorthBay building at 1860 Pennsylvania Ave.
But what would he ask Santa to bring him? Cherelle Verastegui speculated it would be a Power Rangers figure.
Finally, Julius got to approach Santa. He ran and sat in Santa’s lap.
“Would you like a bear?” Santa said, handing him a Teddy bear provided by Genentech.
“Yeah,” Julius said.
Then it was time for a photo. Santa, Julius and Julius’ 7-week-old brother Jonathan II huddled into the frame. Jonathan wore a “Santa’s Little Helper” shirt.
“Cheeeeese,” Julius said, holding up a candy cane.
Finally, Julius got to pick a toy out from Santa’s Workshop. That consisted of an exam room stuffed with toys, from a Darth Vader figure to a toy bulldozer to a plush dog.
Sure enough, Julius found a Power Rangers figure.
Cherelle Verastegui said the ABC program has been a help for her.
“They do a lot of good stuff,” she said. “They had nursing classes, they had classes just to prepare for birth.”
Elise Pierson of Fairfield came with her 3-year-old daughter Makaila. Makaila left Santa’s Workshop with a Bratz doll.
“I just want to play,” she said.
Pierson also praised the ABC program. It helped her with her pregnancy for Makaila and it’s helping with her current pregnancy, she said.
“They gave me all my dates on my pregnancy,” she said. “They helped me with my appointments. They helped me with gifts, like this, for my daughter. Clinics for my pregnancy.”
The Christmas event featured a bilingual Santa who could talk to both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking children.
“Everyone who is a patient is invited to bring their families,” NorthBay Healthcare spokeswoman Diane Barney said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.